Four directors of companies that formed part of a group involved in the transfer of millions of pounds of pensions have been banned for a total of 34 years.

Karl Dunlop, Stuart Grehan and Ian Dunsford previously accepted disqualification undertakings for their management roles within the group of companies involved in the transfer of pension funds.

Stuart Grehan, Director of Sycamore Crown Ltd and also known as Stuart Chapman-Clark, agreed to a 9-year voluntary ban as a result of false and misleading statements made to encourage investors to transfer their pension pots.

Karl Dunlop (9 years), Director of Imperial Trustee Services Ltd, and Ian Dunsford (7 years), Director of Omni Trustees Ltd, agreed to voluntarily bans for failing to act in the best interests of pension members and subsequently failing to ensure investments were adequately diverse.

And despite not formally being appointed a director of Transeuro Worldwide Holdings Ltd, Stephen Talbot recently accepted a 9-year disqualification undertaking for failing to explain what happened to millions pounds worth of assets.

The investigation, led by the Insolvency Service, centred on the conduct of the directors connected with Transeuro Worldwide Holdings Ltd (TWH), who helped fund two introducer firms Sycamore Crown Ltd (Sycamore) and Jackson Francis Ltd (JF).

The introducer firms cold-called members of the public, inviting them to transfer their pension pots into Self Invested Personal Pension plans (SIPPs) and pension schemes operated by Omni Trustees Ltd (Omni) and Imperial Trustee Services Ltd (Imperial), who provided trustee and administrator services for two occupational pension schemes ? Henley Retirement Benefit Scheme (HRBS) and Capita Oak Pension Scheme (COPS).

However, investigators found that the introducers from both Sycamore and Jackson Francis misled clients about their expertise and experience, offering ?guaranteed? returns designed to encourage them to transfer their existing pension funds.

As a result, more than ?39m was paid into SIPPs, over ?10m into COPS and more than ?8m to HRBS. Members? funds were then largely invested in unregulated investments in storage units which ultimately did not yield the level of returns promised to members.

Ken Beasley, Official Receiver for the Insolvency Service?s Public Interest Unit, said that unfortunately he has seen an increase in cases where members of the public have been persuaded to transfer their hard-earned pension pots into new schemes on the basis of unsubstantiated promises of higher returns which inevitably never materialise.
He said:

You may have seen the current campaign by the Financial Conduct Authority, where they recommend that you reject unexpected offers, especially those originating from a cold call. You should check who you are dealing with, avoid being rushed or pressured into making decisions and seek out impartial advice before going ahead with any pension transfer.

Suspicions should also be raised if you are promised high or guaranteed returns, unusual investments or complicated structures, high-pressure sales tactics, involvement of several parties, all taking a fee which significantly cuts into your pension pot, and long-term pension investments which could take years before you realise something is wrong.