The Scottish Parliament has agreed to protect trustees against future court action from bus industry pensioners involved in an eight year fight over a £146m surplus.
The two pension funds at the centre of the dispute are the Transport Operatives Pension Scheme (TOPS) and the Staff Pension Fund (SPF), both of which belong to the Scottish Transport Group. Trustees of the TOPS and the SPF schemes now have indemnities protecting them from any future litigation.
As part of the deal with the UK Treasury to resolve the dispute, the two fund's combined surplus - worth £146m - will be split between the funds' members and the Treasury.
Members of TOPS and the SPF will receive £100m, whilst the rest will go to the UK Treasury. According to the Scottish Executive, the purpose of the indemnities is to put the funds' trustees in a position to proceed to wind up the pension funds and transfer the surpluses in these pension funds to a third fund, the Scottish Bus Group (SBG) pension scheme.
The SBG is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Scottish Transport Group (STG), a company owned by the Scottish government. When the surpluses are paid to the pension fund members, the funds will be wound up, along with SBG. Eventually, the remaining assets will be controlled by the Scottish government.
Without the indemnities, the trustees would be personally liable if subsequently any claim, action, complaint or proceeding were substantiated against the trustees in relation to the funds. The indemnities are considered essential to secure the wind-up of the funds and the transfer of the surplus.
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