HOW THE WESTMINSTER PENSION SCAM WORKED
The Westminster pension scam was administered by Stephen Ward among others. Same sponsoring employer as Capita Oak i.e. R. P. Medplant Ltd. Cyprus. Same transfer administration spreadsheet using the same colours, spelling mistakes, names etc. The trustee of the Westminster pension scam was Thames Trustees.
The trustee of the Westminster pension scam was Thames Trustees. The scheme was established in December 2012. Victims were convinced to move their existing pension funds into the scheme with the promise of a cash payment of 50% of the value of the transfer. Victims were told these would be “loans” which would never have to be repaid.
In total, 79 members transferred a total of £3,333,665 into the Westminster pension scam. The Insolvency Service, who would up Thames Trustees, investigated the scam and decided the company had operated with a lack of transparency and a lack of commercial probity:
- The directors of the company had no knowledge of the activities of the company and/or investments made on behalf of the Scheme.
- Those in actual control of the company gave conflicting explanations about their roles. They received significant commission payments which were deducted from the funds transferred into the Scheme by clients, without the prior knowledge or consent of those clients.
- The investments made with the Scheme funds were not made for a true commercial purpose; there were significant discrepancies in the documentation associated with the investments; some of the investments were in an unregulated collective investment scheme suitable only for sophisticated investors able to understand and bear the high risks involved, and not suitable for the clients recruited by the company; some investments were in an unsuccessful land development in Florida. The investigation found no meaningful evidence to suggest that there was any value whatsoever in the investments undertaken by or on behalf of the Scheme.
“The structure of this pension liberation scheme was deliberately opaque and the lack of transparency was added to by the failure of those in control of the company to fully cooperate with the investigation.
The operation of the scheme was highly prejudicial to the clients who were required to invest their pension funds into it in order to obtain the early release of part of those funds. The balance of funds were not legitimately invested as clients were led to believe. These proceedings show that the Insolvency Service will take firm action against companies which mislead the public in this way.”
The petition to wind-up Thames Trustees Ltd was presented under s124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 on 3 May 2016. The company was wound up on 11 July 2016 and the Official Receiver was appointed as liquidator.
As always, Pension Life would like to remind you that if you are planning to transfer any pension funds, make sure that you are transferring into a legitimate scheme. To find out how to avoid being scammed, please see our blog: