SIPP 

FSCS pays out £95m to GPC Sipp clients

FSCS pays out £95m to GPC Sipp clients

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme has paid £95m in compensation to clients who held unregulated assets in a self-invested personal pension with GPC Sipp Limited.

The claims were brought against the IFAs who had advised the clients to transfer their pensions to GPC, formerly known as Guardian Pension Consultants, and then invest in high risk assets that later failed.

The investments included Harlequin Properties, a £400m project involving a luxury hotel development that was largely never built.

As it stands the FSCS has paid out on 2,206 claims, most of which were brought between 2014 and 2019 but a handful date back to as far as 2004.

The claims peaked in 2015, when 1016 were received and 944 paid and in 2016, when 519 were received and 566 were paid.

The FSCS stated last week it will take on a further 500 claims which are currently with the Financial Ombudsman Service.

This comes after GPC entered administration last week (June 12) as a result of problems with the investments in its Sipps.

The company currently has 2,700 Sipps holding alternative investments, several of which have failed, and assets totalling £130m. These assets were placed between between 2009 and 2012.

The firm is also facing legal claims from a group of 141 clients but stated it is contesting all Fos cases and legal action against it.

The FSCS is currently probing whether it will accept claims against the company directly, after inviting claimants to come forward last week.

It would first have to establish if the firm is liable for client losses and officially declare it in default.

The FSCS announced in March it had recovered £300m from failed financial services companies over the past five years, which included the Harlequin cases.

The IFA firms which received the largest number of FSCS claims against their advice to date were 1 Stop Financial Services, TailorMade Independent Limited and Total Wealth Management Limited, formerly The IFA Partnership Limited, with 1,254, 599 and 147 claims respectively. 

Last year Alistair Burns, the chief executive and director of TailorMade Independent, was banned from performing any significant-influence or senior management function, on the basis of a "fundamental lack of competence and capability" and his part in distributing Harlequin products. 

However, the judge who upheld the Financial Conduct Authority's decision to ban the chief executive also told the regulator to reduce the fine to be imposed on Mr Burns from £233,600 to £60,000. 

rachel.addison@ft.com 

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