Pension liberation fears have driven The Pension Regulator to appoint Dalriada Trustees as an independent trustee to the London Quantum Retirement Benefit Scheme, which is also known as the London Quantum Occupational Scheme.
In a letter sent to members of Quantum, seen by FTAdviser, Dalriada stated that this decision had been made on 18 June by TPR.
Dalriada wrote that it was not appropriate for it to comment in any detail in relation to the decision to appoint an independent trustee, however “there are concerns that the scheme has been used as a vehicle for ‘pension liberation’.
It explained that pension liberation occurs where individuals are encouraged to transfer to schemes in the expectation of getting access to their pension fund prior to the age of 55, either by way of a loan or some other form of cash inducement such as commission.
Dalriada said that, generally, schemes that are scams and/or used for pension liberation have high charges and often invest whatever money is left after these charges in risky and unusual investments. This can result in members “losing their entire pension fund”.
It added: “If the scheme was used for pension liberation and/or was just a scam, Dalriada will take whatever action it can to recover the funds.”
Due to the suspicions, Dalriada added that members will not be able to pay further contributions or transfers into the scheme, and no payments will be made to, or in respect of, any members of the scheme.
“These steps are necessary to ensure that Dalriada is able to obtain all relevant information on the assets and liabilities of the scheme, and clarify the basis on which the scheme should be administered and managed, before any further financial transactions take place,” it read.
Dalriada has asked members to provide any information they were provided with about the scheme, including booklets and any information about how the pension fund would be invested, whether people were offered cash payments for joining the scheme, and if a payment was arranged, details of who arranged it.
The letter added that it is currently unable to provide information as to what implications this will have for scheme members.
FTAdviser has also seen the determination by TPR which states that the appointment is with immediate effect, alongside a number of other stipulations. A spokesperson said: “We are unable to comment on individual schemes”.
A Dalriada spokesperson added: “We have recently been appointed as trustee of the London Quantum Retirement Benefit Scheme and are currently gathering information and documentation relating to the scheme.”
The trustee of the scheme prior to Dalriada’s appointment was Dorrixo Alliance UK, and one of the contacts provided for the organisation is Stephen Ward at Bridgwater, Somerset.
Mr Ward could not be reached for comment.
In November last year, Mr Ward, a high-profile promoter of the Ark Business Consulting’s pensions liberation schemes, resurfaced with new pension products, which he said were “above board”.