UK - More than £3m of pension transfers ended up in secret offshore accounts after being passed through the Brand New Carpet Company scheme.
The scheme - which is being wound up by OPRA after allegations of fraud - is now being investigated by Inland Revenue officials while police fraud officers are also being kept informed.
The pensions money initially passed through the Brand New Carpet Company Retirement Benefits Scheme account. This was set up to take transfers from the legitimate pension fund approved by the Inland Revenue and run as part of a centralised scheme by Standard Life.
Eversheds partner Giles Orton, who is advising OPRA-appointed Capital Cranfield Trustees on the wind-up of the scheme, also said that there are signs that funds have been moving to Gibraltar via the Isle of Man”.
Meanwhile, OPRA chairman Harriet Maunsell has rejected criticism from pension funds that the regulator had been slow to react.
She said OPRA had taken all the action it could under the Pensions Act 1995 which governs the extent of its powers.
She added: “This is a breach of Inland Revenue rules. But what we can do is work alongside the Inland Revenue and we are doing that - we are in close touch with them.“
Trustees and fund administrators have also been warned to be wary of at least seven other companies, possibly interlinked with the Brand New Carpet Company, which are also offering pension transfer deals to early leavers.
For legal reasons names cannot be revealed, but some of them operate as legitimate companies involved in businesses such as travel agencies and other retail operations.
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