Firm drops pension trust that ‘sailed close to the wind’

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ByDonia O’Loughlin

Alternative investment firm Chase Goldman has now removed details of a ‘pension liberation’ product that claimed to allow early access via a pension trust, after telling FTAdviser that it did not realise that investors could be hit with tax charges of up to 70 per cent.

Earlier this week, FTAdviser revealed that the website of investment firm Chase Goldman offers savers early access to their pensions by transferring their pension into its ‘pension trust’. It specifically stated that investors “do not have to be of retirement age”.

At the time, Chase Goldman could not respond to FTAdviser’s enquiries.

Since the publication of the article a spokesperson for Chase Goldman contacted FTAdviser and said that he did not realise early pension access contravenes pension law or that savers could face a 70 per cent charge from HMRC.

He told FTAdviser that the pension trust part of the website, which now no longer exists, has only been there for one month and no business had been processed. He said he believed that because pension trusts are registered with HMRC, the Revenue had approved early access.

He told FTAdviser: “We have not put any client monies into a pension trust and we are now not going to.

“That part of the website has only been up for a month or so, as I was contacted by a firm who thought it would make a good addition to the website but I did not do any research on the business model. I have now taken it down.

“I now realise that I was sailing a bit close to the wind.”

HMRC told FTAdviser that only in exception circumstances, such as a terminal illness, can a saver have early access to their pension without incurring charges.

HMRC also reiterated that pension trusts are not a “legal loophole”, adding that like all pension schemes, pension trusts need to be registered with them, and that early access to a pension, whether via a pension trust or now, will mean that the saver will be hit with a substantial charge.

A spokesperson for HMRC added: “We have an active compliance programme and are working extremely closely with other regulators to detect, deter and disrupt pension’s liberation activity.”