EVERGREEN RETIREMENT TRUST QROPS PENSION SCAM AND MARAZION LOANS
THE WAY THE SCAM WORKED
When Ark got shut down in June 2011, Stephen Ward flew to New Zealand and set up the Evergreen NZ QROPS liberation scam with Simon Swallow of Charter Square. Ward also set up a “loan” company in Cyprus called Marazion. He also did a deal with two investment funds: Penrich and Spectrum. Expats would transfer their UK pensions to Evergreen and pay a 10% transfer fee. As soon as the transfer was complete, a loan – funded by either
Expat victims (mostly) would transfer their UK pensions to Evergreen and pay a 10% transfer fee. As soon as the transfer was complete, a loan – funded by either Penrich or Spectrum (to whom the loans were assigned) was arranged between Marazion and the member. The loan was for a fixed five-year term, and the member was made to sign a “lock in” agreement with Evergreen.
The loan interest was 8.5% compound (quarterly) and would mean that the original loan amount would increase by 50% by the end of the five years. Ergo, the maths worked like this at the outset: £100k transfer; £10k fees; £90k Evergreen fund; £50k loan. At the end of the five-year term, the Evergreen fund would either have increased, decreased or remained the same (in fact, it has decreased) and the loan would have increased to £75k. The member was offered the option to renew the loan for a further five-year term at a higher rate of interest.
For three years, Evergreen managed to avoid disclosing what the assets of the scheme actually were, but in 2015 they had no choice other than to disclose that 41% of the scheme’s assets consisted of Penrich and Spectrum. After a lengthy and detailed complaint to the NZ Ombudsman, the complaint against Evergreen was not upheld and the victims were originally left “locked in” until 2017. However, Evergreen has now moved the goal posts and the victims are locked in until they reach the age of 55. Evergreen was removed from the QROPS list by HMRC in November 2012.
THE IDENTITY OF THE MAIN PLAYERS
Stephen Ward of PPS/Marazion
Continental Wealth Management SL who acted as introducers
Simon Swallow of Charter Square
HOW THE MAIN PLAYERS WERE INVOLVED
Continental Wealth acted as introducers – and referred to the firm as the “sister” company to Ward’s company Premier Pension Solutions; PPS processed the transfers and loans; Swallow of Charter Square managed the scheme.