UK - Independent trustees at the now-defunct Restawile Upholstery scheme are looking at whether cash in a staff scheme was used to fund directors' pensions.
Alexander Forbes, which was appointed independent trustee by receivers KPMG to wind-up the scheme, says Restawile had a final salary plan for its 15 or so staff and a defined contribution arrangement for the three directors.
Alexander Forbes director of trust corporation Andrew Bakewell said: “When we were appointed, the latest scheme accounts showed there was between £30,000 and £40,000 in the fund. But we discovered there was no money in the fund.
“It appears the final salary fund was used to pay directors’ pensions until it ran out.”
Bakewell says if this is the case, the trustees are either in breach of trust or were given “bad advice” from their actuary, Manchester-based Santhouse Whittington.
Simmons and Simmons solicitor Kirsty Bartlett said liability would lie on both the trustees and their advisers, but the extent of the blame to each party would depend on the situation.
“Actuaries are there to advise trustees on the best course of action. So if a trustee followed the advice of the actuary – providing it was not manifestly wrong – this would relieve the trustees of liability.”
Alexander Forbes’s investigation, though, is restricted by the lack of cash in the Restawile fund which would be used to pay the independent trustee’s fees.
The firm has approached OPRA for advice and is awaiting a response.
The Pensions Compensation Board is also looking at whether members of Restawile’s final salary scheme have a case for compensation.
PCB secretary Mike Lydon said: ”We have got the enquiry on the table and we are in contact with certain parties.
“As yet, we do not have the complete information.”
Santhouse Whittington declined to comment
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