The UK Pensions Regulator won a legal battle in London’s High Court on Tuesday, which resulted in four people being ordered to repay £13.7m over the next two years.
David Austin, Susan Dalton, Alan Barratt and Julian Hanson obtained the money via cold-calls, which persuaded 245 people to transfer their pension funds into fraudulent policies. The 11 scam schemes were managed by Friendly Pensions Ltd. Victims were informed they would receive a tax-free payment, or commission rebate, from their new investments.
Austin, whom the judge identified as the scheme’s “mastermind”, laundered funds from the schemes into bank accounts in Switzerland and Andorra, via businesses he had established in the UK, Cyprus and the Caribbean. The judge ruled that Austin and Barrett were liable to repay £7.7m subject to interest.
Nicola Parish, executive director of frontline regulation at the Pensions Regulator, said “the defendants siphoned off millions of pounds from the schemes on what they falsely claimed were fees and commissions.”