Personal Pension  

Ombudsman to publish fresh Capita Oak decision

Ombudsman to publish fresh Capita Oak decision

A fresh decision on the controversial Capita Oak pension scheme, which is the subject of a major campaign amid an investigation by the tax watchdog over suspicions of pension liberation, could be published as early as this week, the Pension Ombudsman has told FTAdviser.

Campaigners who have been lobbying on behalf of those who transferred to unregulated pension scheme Capita Oak have been frustrated with a perceived regulatory hold-up in action from both the Pensions Regulator and the Pensions Ombudsman.

FTAdviser has seen a series of emails addressed to the Pensions Ombudsman and the Pensions Regulator from Angela Brooks, with the first seen by FTAdviser dating from September 2014.

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The Pensions Ombudsman confirmed to FTAdviser that it had received correspondance, however the Pensions Regulator said it could not comment on individual cases.

The scheme, which has been previously highlighted in a Pensions Ombudsman, is a self-storage firm in the north of England. It lost one case with the ombudsman after it failed to comply with a transfer out request for one member who had moved his £376,000 NHS pension fund.

In January of this year the Pension Ombudsman said another decision would be forthcoming as it asked individuals to stop submitting complaints and warned of a likely glut of future cases over transfers that mainstream providers had allowed to proceed.

Earlier this month, HMRC told savers in the Capita Oak pension scheme that it will not relent on its position and will continue to apply penalty taxes.

HMRC wrote in its letter to savers: “In similar cases HMRC has taken the view that such payments are unauthorised payments from a registered pension scheme that give rise to tax charges under sections 208 and 209 Finance Act 2004.

“It is also possible (although not a given) that if we conclude that this scheme was set-up purely as a vehicle for pensions liberation then the entire member transfer-in (to Capita Oak) could be an unauthorised payment.”

The email last September, written by Ms Brooks, states: “The major concern appears to be that nobody can trace the assets, although they appear to have been invested in Store First. However, it would also appear that the Capita Oak members will be hit with an unauthorised payment charge by HMRC.

“I would be most grateful if you would kindly let me know who is currently in charge of the scheme and its assets so that some updates can be given to the members as to whether their pensions are safe and get some news as to how and when they can transfer out of Capita Oak.”

In a later email sent to the Pensions Regulator in April, Ms Brooks says she “urgently” wants to meet with TPR to discuss pension regulation and “Capita Oak in particular, which is now at a critical point since HMRC have started opening enquiries into the members”.

Ms Brooks told the Pensions Regulator that Capita Oak victims, who may have made investments worth £10m, “are very worried indeed”.

“All this has been widely reported by the BBC as well as the national and financial press, and yet still the scheme remains in the hands of [those who set the scheme up] in the first place. No accounts or valuations have been done and the trustee has failed to respond to the two Pensions Ombudsman’s determinations.”