UK - The former administrator of the Mergeformat TEC Pension Sch-eme has been ordered to refund over £27,000 after a series of trustee and administrative failings.
Mrs Head complained to the ombudsman that – following the death of her husband, Mr J.E. Head, on September 16, 1995 – the trustees and ECS International administered the scheme poorly resulting in a severe shortfall in her widow’s pension.
She argued that the fees invoiced by ECS – and paid by the trustees without reference to her – were excessive.
Mrs Head also sought compensation for the costs she incurred in taking advice and in appointing new trustees and a new administrator to the money purchase scheme.
The ombudsman, David Laverick, decided there was a failure to maintain and complete proper accounts for the scheme. He said a number of accounting queries remained unresolved two years after the former trustee company and ECS’s roles had been relinquished.
In his determination, Laverick said: “ECS was responsible for drafting scheme accounts for the trustees and clearly failed to exercise this duty.”And he added that a former trustee’s ill-health did not excuse the poor administration of the scheme.
In respect of excessive fees, Laverick said: “The level of such fees must be reasonable and the invoices must cover work validly carried out for the benefit of the scheme.”
Laverick ruled that the charges were not “commensurate with the services provided”.
He ordered ECS to pay £2,570.81 to cover improper invoices in the scheme accounts, a similar payment of £3262.50 plus VAT in respect of two alleged consultancy items for which fees were improperly charged.
ECS was also required to refund overcharges of £696.90 plus VAT and £525 plus VAT, and a further £13,531 for six inappropriate visits to London by a former trustee.
A further £6,699.04 was repaid, which represented the additional costs billed to Mrs Head by the new administrators and which were caused by the previous maladministration.
The ombudsman also awarded Mrs Head £1000 in compensation for distress and inconvenience as a result of its maladministration.
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