Regulation  

Ombudsman warns Capita Oak complainants

Ombudsman warns Capita Oak complainants

Pension savers who transferred their savings to an unregulated pension scheme that has been the subject of a number of complaints against mainstream providers have been warned against submitting ombudsman claims, which are liable to be rejected.

Pensions Ombudsman Tony King has published guidance surrounding transfers to the Capita Oak Pension Scheme, which has been at the centre of questions over alleged pension ‘liberation’, warning consumers should first go through the providers’ internal dispute resolution procedure.

This morning, the ombudsman published two cases where it did not upheld complaints against separate providers for transferring pension funds.

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In these cases, against Legal and General and Scottish Widows, the ombudsman said that the transfers were requested before the Pensions Regulator had issued guidance on the subject of pension liberation in early 2013.

He added that as the scheme was a registered pension scheme and the complainant appeared to have a statutory right to transfer, there was no reason for the transfers to be withheld.

If individuals think a pension scheme or company should not have paid the transfer value to Capita Oak, then before complaining to the ombudsman they will need to have used the complaint procedures.

Crucially, the guidance also adds that if anyone still wants to complain to the ombudsman, they will need to explain why the case is significantly different to the two published cases.

“Overall, there had been no administrative failure by the providers in complying with his request... if your case is similar to those cases, a complaint is unlikely to be upheld.

“You should write to them [the transferring provider] setting out what you consider they have done wrong and asking for the matter to be treated as a formal complaint. If the complaint is against an occupational scheme... you should ask for it to be considered under the internal dispute resolution procedure.”

The Pensions Ombudsman also told Capita Oak investors to speak to the Pensions Advisory Service if they need any help or advice.

Transferees to the Capita Oak scheme has also recently been told that should HMRC decide their transfers constitute an unauthorised payment - a matter still undecided - they will not be given any repreive from penalty taxes of 55 per cent that would apply.

In the decisions published earlier today, Mr King states the operators of the scheme, Imperial Trustees, had appointed an accountant to look into the schemes in the light of “a lot of bad publicity”.

These enquiries, he notes, indicated that the pension fund was invested in storage pods with Store First. The decision explains the accountant, Mr Downs, said he had “no reason to believe that anything untoward” had happened to Mr Winning’s investment.

peter.walker@ft.com