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Criminal accountant forced to repay over a quarter of a million pounds defrauded from pension scheme

Ref: PN20-29

Issued: Wednesday 28 October 2020

A convicted fraudster who defrauded a pension scheme of £292,000 has today been ordered to repay the money.

Roger William Bessent, 67, of Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, had stolen savers’ cash from the Focusplay Retirement Benefit Scheme (FRBS) and transferred it into businesses he part-owned and which were run by his family and a client.

Bessent, who had acted as a trustee and administrator for FRBS, was sentenced in March 2019 to more than three years in jail, following a prosecution by The Pensions Regulator.

At a confiscation hearing today at Preston Crown Court brought by TPR, Judge Heather Lloyd ordered Bessent to pay a total of £274,733. Of this amount, £233,317.90 will be returned directly to the FRBS as part of a compensation order, which accounted for the difference between the sum stolen and the amount he has previously repaid.

Bessent will have to repay the amount in full within three months.  If he fails to do so, he will serve an additional 30-month term, and would still be liable to pay back the money, with interest. He was also ordered to hand over all the cash currently in his bank accounts, £9861, within seven days.

Erica Carroll, TPR’s Director of Enforcement said: “Bessent held a position of trust which he abused for his own gain – stealing money meant for hardworking scheme members’ retirements.

“Today’s result shows TPR is determined that criminals such as Bessent are not only punished for their crimes but also do not benefit financially from their crimes. The money he stole will now be returned for the benefit of the scheme members he took it from.

“And, if he doesn’t pay up in three months, he faces extra jail time and will still have to return the money.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

  • For more details on Bessent’s previous sentencing please see the press release issued in March 2019.
  • The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) sets out the legislative scheme for the recovery of money from criminal conduct following a confiscation investigation. Confiscation occurs after a conviction has taken place. The aim is to deny criminals the benefit of their criminal conduct, recover the proceeds of crime and disrupt and deter criminality.
  • TPR is the regulator of work-based pension schemes in the UK. Our statutory objectives are: to protect members’ benefits; to reduce the risk of calls on the Pension Protection Fund (PPF); to promote, and to improve understanding of, the good administration of work-based pension schemes; to maximise employer compliance with automatic enrolment duties; and to minimise any adverse impact on the sustainable growth of an employer (in relation to the exercise of the regulator’s functions under Part 3 of the Pensions Act 2004 only).
  • Any balance of monies after the Compensation Order has been satisfied will be paid to the Home Office as part of Asset Recovery Incentivisation Scheme

Press contacts

Dan Menhinnitt

Media Officer
pressoffice@tpr.gov.uk
01273 349511

Matt Adams

Media Relations Manager
pressoffice@tpr.gov.uk
01273 662086

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