Ark: The six Ark schemes were set up to operate the “Pension Reciprocation Plan” (PRP) pension “loan” scheme in 2010. In other words, pension liberation – releasing funds from a pension before the age of 55 and triggering an “unauthorised payment” charge from HMRC. PRP entailed a member transferring his or her pension into one of the Ark schemes (Lancaster, Portman, Cranborne Star, Woodcroft House, Tallton Place or Grosvenor) and receiving a “loan” called an MPVA (Maximising Pension Value Arrangement) of 50% of the value of the transfer from a different scheme. In May 2011 the Pensions Regulator appointed Dalriada Trustees and the Ark schemes were suspended. In November 2011, Justice Bean ruled in the High Court that the Ark schemes loan arrangements were a “fraud on the power of investment”.
Dalriada Trustees have recovered most of the assets of the scheme – mainly consisting of high-risk, illiquid, speculative, offshore property. However, none of the members are able to transfer out until the complex issues of tax penalties against the scheme and the members are resolved.
The principal promoter and administrator of the Ark schemes was Stephen Ward of Premier Pension Solutions in Spain and Premier Pension Transfers in the UK (31 Memorial Road, Worsley). Ward ran a number of seminars in the UK to recruit both clients and “introducers”, and sold approximately 160 of the 487 transfers totaling nearly £11 million. In total there are £30 million worth of transfers in Ark. It is not known whether the victims will ever see their funds again and whether the whole lot will be swallowed up by tax and fees. The worst danger the Ark victims face is that Dalriada will force them to repay the MPVA loans, but they will still be forced by HMRC to pay the tax even after the loans are paid back.
Ark Class Action was set up in 2013 to represent the Ark victims; appeal their tax liabilities and take legal action against the negligent ceding providers (such as Aviva, Standard Life, Prudential etc) for transferring the pension funds into what were actually bogus “occupational” schemes.
Angie Brooks is Chairman of Ark Class Action. Secretary is Kim Goldsmith.
Altmann (Ros) was Pensions Minister (also a Baroness in the House of Lords) under DWP Secretary of State Iain Duncan-Smith. In December 2015 Altmann refused to meet with Angie Brooks and Ark victim Sue Flood when they went to the offices of the Department of Work and Pensions for a meeting. Angie and Sue wanted Altmann to engage with the Ark Class Action and help negotiate a tax amnesty for victims of pension fraud. A security guard told them to leave the premises as the Baroness would not meet them and explained “this is not a Job Centre”.
Approved is a term widely used by scammers to make a scam appear safe and respectable. When a pension scheme is HMRC registered it does not mean that HMRC have in any way approved it. Similarly, when an occupational pension scheme is Pensions Regulator registered is does not mean that tPR has approved the scheme. Neither HMRC nor tPR did any kind of checking to verify that a scheme was not a scam back in 2010 – although they do now claim to be more vigilant.