Pensions  

Broker banned for pension negligence

Broker banned for pension negligence

An insurance broker has been banned for seven years for negligence failings in administering a pension scheme.

According to the Insolvency Service, Ivor Jenkins, from Widnes, Cheshire, was the sole director of Optimum Financial Solutions, which traded as an insurance agent, brokering various policies, and was approved by the financial regulators.

When in 2015 the company started to struggle, to bring in a new source of income Jenkins agreed for Optimum Financial Solutions to administer a pension scheme called Optimum Retirement Benefits Plan, which was promoted to clients.

Following this the company moved offices from Widnes to Skelmersdale, while also renting an office in Manchester, where the pension schemes were promoted.

Jenkins received financial incentives, such as a lump sum payment of £50,000 and monthly payments of £5,000 for the work.

But complaints led to the Insolvency Service carrying out an investigation into Optimum Financial Solutions in 2016, which resulted in the company being wound up in court in February 2018.

Further investigations by the official receiver found that the company had failed to keep adequate records, didn’t provide information to the tax authorities about the pensions and didn’t provide the scheme members with up to date information, such as personal statements.

When questioned, Jenkins claimed that he was not personally involved in the promotion of the pension scheme, the Insolvency Service stated.

However, The Pensions Regulator published a report in June 2018 that proved otherwise. Despite being regulated to deal with insurances and mortgages, Jenkins confirmed that neither he nor anyone else at Optimum Financial Solutions had permission to talk to potential clients about pension schemes.

The TPR report also highlighted that the scheme hadn't been run appropriately and there were serious concerns over the status of members’ funds, believed to be more than £13m.

The independent trustee of the pension scheme, appointed in February 2018 before Optimum Financial Solutions was wound up, has been unable to reconcile member accounts and identify assets, largely due to the inadequate record keeping.

Jenkins voluntarily disqualified himself to end the court action against him.

Effective from June 28, 2019, he is banned from directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company.

Ken Beasley, official receiver for the Insolvency Service, said: "Having worked in the highly-regulated insurance industry, Ivor Jenkins should have known that there are stringent guidelines when it comes to administering a pension scheme.

"He gained personally from allowing his company to administer the pension scheme, while members were left in the dark about their savings, and for that we welcome this disqualification which seriously curtails his ability to run a limited company."

maria.espadinha@ft.com

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