The individuals identified as the masterminds behind a £13.7 million pension scam have been banned from being trustees of pension schemes.
David Austin, Susan Dalton, Alan Barratt and Julian Hanson ran a scam that cheated 245 people out of their pension savings after the members were persuaded to transfer funds into one of 11 fraudulent schemes.
Via cold-calling and other persuasive techniques, victims were convinced that if they transferred their pension pots they would receive a tax-free payment, commonly described as a commission rebate, from investments made by the pension scheme.
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) brought proceedings against the four individuals in the High Court and in January 2018. They were ordered to repay the millions of pounds they took from the schemes. At the conclusion of the case, judge Mark Pelling QC ruled that Austin had been the primary mastermind of the scam.
Part of the pension scam involved £120,000 of scheme funds being moved to an organisation whose directors included Austin and his daughter, Camilla. In addition, Austin moved funds from the schemes to his and family’s bank accounts in the UK, Switzerland and Andorra, through a number of businesses in the UK, Cyprus and the Caribbean. He and his family gained an estimated £1.3 million. Barratt, Dalton and Hanson were paid more than £380,000, £168,000 and £7,000, respectively.
Austin had not been appointed as a trustee of any schemes, but TPR’s determinations panel ruled that action should be taken to ban him from being so, as he had been dishonestly involved in the misuse or misappropriation of scheme assets. Austin has also been disqualified from acting as a company director for 12 years, and his daughter for four years.
The TPR stated: “The panel concluded that the evidence in relation to Mr Austin’s conduct was so serious, and his involvement in the receiving schemes was so close and influential, as to warrant his prohibition from acting as a trustee of trust schemes in general.”
The panel also ruled that Dalton, Barratt and Hanson should be banned from being trustees both as a result of their dishonesty, and due to the amounts of money they took from the schemes.