ARK PENSION SCAM – THE WAY THE SCHEME WORKED:
Six “occupational” schemes were used: Lancaster; Portman; Cranborne Star; Woodcroft House; Tallton Place and Grosvenor Parade. Each scheme had to have less than 100 members to stay under tPR’s inspection radar. Member A would transfer their £100k pension to – say – Lancaster; Member B would transfer their £100k pension to – say – Tallton; after paying the 5% fee, both A and B would then have £95k in their respective schemes; the Lancaster scheme would then make a “loan” of £50k to member B and the Tallton scheme would make a “loan” of £50k to member A. These so-called loans were called MPVAs (Maximising Pension Value Arrangements) and formed part of a scheme called PRP (Pension Reciprocation Plan).
This MPVA arrangement was supposed to work along “peer to peer” lines with a named member “lending” 50% of their fund to another member of a different fund. Apparently, there was a spreadsheet showing the reciprocal arrangements between members, and some members were told they had been “paired” with another member with a similar sized transfer. However, it was actually impossible to determine whether any individual had “made” a loan since no segregated accounts were kept by Ark, and even when Dalriada Trustees took over they did make any attempt to produce segregated accounts. This point is very important because HMRC are issuing protected assessments on the basis of members receiving as well as making loans. In my defence against the assessments I am making it clear that nobody made a loan – and even if there was a spreadsheet stating that a member had made a loan, it is impossible to establish that they did because all the funds were pooled.
In the beginning, i.e. around Q3 2010, all the transfer administration was handled by Craig Tweedley and his team at Ark, but as the success of the scheme grew more and more quickly, Stephen Ward and his UK manager Anthony Salih (based at 31 Memorial Road, Worsley) were gradually taking over. By May 2011 when Dalriada were appointed, all the members’ records were held at 31 Memorial Road. Ward was on the point of effectively taking over completely and squeezing Craig Tweedley out altogether.
THE IDENTITY OF THE MAIN PLAYERS
Ark was set up by Andrew Isles of Isles and Storer Accountants and he called in Craig Tweedley of Ark Business Consulting and Stephen Ward of Premier Pension Solutions SL and Premier Pension Transfers Ltd. Two pension trustee firms were set up: Athena and Minerva, and fourteen schemes were registered with HMRC and tPR (although only six were ever actually used as tPR appointed Dalriada in May 2011 before the other eight could be used).
HOW THE MAIN PLAYERS WERE INVOLVED
This started as Craig Tweedley’s “baby” but Stephen Ward was rapidly taking over. Tweedley had brought in various “introducers” (see the PRP spreadsheet) including Andrew Isles himself, Cavendish & Provident, Geoff Mills, Jeremy Denning and Silk Financial Services etc., although by far the biggest single introducer was PPS who accounted for approximately a third of the total transfers.
Ward ran a series of “road shows” at various locations in the UK, including Silvermere Golf Club, to introduce this “amazing opportunity” to a variety of potential introducers and clients. Apparently these events were full to capacity – as Jeremy Cornford will attest. Throughout the promotion of Ark, Ward used his credentials as a CII Level 6 qualified IFA, former pensions examiner and government consultant, author of Tolleys Pensions Taxation, and tied agent of FSA, CNMV and DGS as evidence of his professionalism, authority and respectability. When questioned as to whether the loans were definitely not taxable he assured potential members that he was qualified to guarantee there would be no tax to pay. When asked whether he had obtained legal opinion on whether there was any risk at all that the loans would be subject to tax, he replied that he had not because that would be tantamount to admitting that he was not sure.
In February 2011, after HMRC held a meeting with Tweedley and Ward, Tweedley did obtain legal opinion from junior barrister Amanda Harding, and this confirmed her view that the loans were not taxable because of their reciprocal nature.
LOCATION OF MAIN PLAYERS’ PERSONAL ASSETS
Premier Pension Solutions S.L. CIF: B54414198 DUNS: B54414198
- Buzon 3077, Calle Haya 64, Moraira 03724 Alicante Email: email@example.com
- Financial Information 2014 (EUR) – preparing to wind up the company:
Sales: 300,739.00 (down from 471,842.00 in 2013); Profit/Loss: -42,402 (down from +13,477 in 2013);
Total Assets: -46,493 (down from +6,888 in 2013); Owned and directed by Stephen Alexander Ward
Stephen Alexander Ward of Calle Madrono 24, Moraira, Alicante. Companies owned and directed:
- Premier Pension Solutions SL registered with the CNMV and DGS
- Premier Pension Transfers Ltd Co. No. 06657673, c/o Butterworth Jones, 7 Castle Street, Bridgewater TA6 3DT (previously 31 Memorial Road, Worsley, Manchester M28 3AG) (Net Worth £193,963)
- Dorrixo Alliance Ltd Co. No. 07808577, 7 Castle Street, Bridgewater TA6 3DT (previously 31 Memorial Road, Worsley, Manchester M28 3AG) (Net Worth £22,791)
- Marazion Ltd. Co. No. HE 299383, 225 Spyros Kyprianou Avenue, Strovolos, P.C. 2047, Nicosia, Cyprus
- Assets: properties in Teulada, Alicante – jointly with wife and son
- Seneca 108 LLC http://www.corporationwiki.com/p/1svk23/seneca-108-llc which owns at least six luxury villas in Florida and which generate income of approximately $10k per week http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p3538149
- International Pension Transfer Specialists, 8 Ctra Moraira-Teulada, 62 CC Barclays, 03724 Moraira, Alicante (PO Box at Letters R Us) – registered with the CNMV and DGS
- Accounts filed in Spain for PPS do not reflect income of 1m Eur from Ark in 2010/11 and 1m Eur from Evergreen in 2011/12. (Also earned $0.5m a year from Florida properties since 2012). PPS’ declared sales for 2010 were 193k; for 2011 were 438k; for 2012 were 461k. Possible tax evasion Spain and elsewhere.