Six people have been questioned in connection with a suspected pension fraud as part of a criminal investigation conducted by The Pensions Regulator (TPR) and Essex Police.
The watchdog believes about 370 people have been persuaded to transfer £18m into eight pension schemes at the centre of the case.
In a statement issued today (December 19), TPR said there was evidence that members’ funds had been passed on to companies connected to the suspects in this investigation.
The regulator opened its case after a number of legitimate schemes had received requests from members to transfer their savings into suspicious schemes and reported it to TPR.
On December 11, warrants were executed at two residential addresses in Essex in a TPR-led joint operation with Essex Police. A business address was also searched.
Four people – three men and one woman – were interviewed under caution and a further two men were arrested and questioned, all on suspicion of fraud offences. They were released while the investigation continues.
As part of the same investigation, TPR’s determinations panel suspended nine people from acting as trustees for a period of 12 months, and appointed an independent trustee – Dalriada Trustees - to the eight schemes at the centre of the investigation.
Nicola Parish, TPR’s executive director of frontline regulation, said the legitimate schemes in this case did the right thing by raising their concerns with the regulator and stopping their members transferring out and potentially losing their life savings into what the watchdog believes to be scams.
She said: "If you are trying to transfer out of a pension scheme and your existing scheme is raising concerns you should listen to them. They are protecting your pension and any red flag warning signs should be taken very seriously."