UK - A large part of the £3m missing in the biggest suspected pension fraud since the Maxwell scandal may never be recovered, lawyers warn.
So far, around £500,000 of the money missing from the Cheney Pension Scheme has been recovered while another £300,000 has been traced to a private bank in Switzerland.
The money in Switzerland had previously passed through a complex trail of bank accounts.
The Serious Fraud Office, which is leading the investigation, is determined to win a successful prosecution.
At present around 10 people linked to the Cheney Pension Scheme are on police bail awaiting a possible prosecution after being arrested over the course of 2001.
Law firm Taylor Joynson Garrett is currently taking legal action to recover funds. Solicitor Nick Moser said: “Those who had taken the money have tried to cover their tracks, but we are making progress in restoring the fund to what it should be.”
But Moser conceded that retrieving all the lost funds “may take years”.In addition to the £300,000 traced to the Swiss account, £500,000 has been recovered with the assistance of Independent Trustee Service (ITS), which was appointed by OPRA to the scheme once the fraud was uncovered in November 2000.
Some money was traced to an investment in a London betting shop and to buy a factory and offices from Cheney - a former locksmith company - at what appears to be an inflated price.
ITS director Chris Martin, though, is pessimistic about recovering the money.
He warned: “Some of it, we suspect, will not be directly recoverable now”.
The members of the Cheney Pension Fund can appeal to the Pensions Compensation Board if the funds are not recovered.
The PCB can make an award to replace up to 90% of a scheme assets once a full investigation has been carried out.
Currently the PCB is making six monthly payments to the Cheney scheme members to maintain their pensions.
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