Four people behind a £13.7m cold-calling scam which cost 245 people their savings have been banned from being pension scheme trustees by The Pensions Regulator (TPR).
David Austin, Susan Dalton, Alan Barratt and Julian Hanson persuaded members using cold-calling and other techniques to transfer their pensions into one of 11 scam schemes. Austin has also been prohibited by the Insolvency Service from being a company director for 12 years.
The regulator brought proceedings against the four in the High Court in January where the individuals were ordered to repay the millions of pounds they took from the schemes between 2012 and 2014.
Austin - who was branded the "mastermind" behind the scam by judge Mark Pelling QC - had not been appointed as a trustee for any of the schemes. However, TPR's Determinations Panel ruled that the regulator should take action as he had been "dishonestly involved in the misuse or misappropriation of scheme assets".
The panel concluded that the evidence in relation to Austin's conduct was "so serious, and his involvement in the receiving schemes was so close and influential" to warrant his ban.
Meanwhile, the panel's reasoning for banning Dalton, Barratt and Hanson was for their "dishonesty", but also because of the "amounts of money they took from the schemes".
TPR and the Financial Conduct Authority joined forces in August to launch a national awareness campaign about pension scams. It came after government figures revealed savers lost around £91,000 each on average from scammers promising lucrative returns from fraudulent schemes.
The government launched its second consultation on a cold-calling ban in July, closing to responses in mid-August with the intention for regulations to be laid in parliament in autumn, "subject to parliamentary timetabling".
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has substantially increased the usage of its powers against trustees – posting a sharp rise in the use of formal information gathering powers and High Court production orders during the three months to the end of September....
The Pension Schemes Bill has completed its third reading, crossing its latest hurdle in the House of Commons.
An amendment to the Pensions Schemes Bill which would have seen people given a pre-booked Pension Wise appointment ahead of accessing their retirement savings has been defeated.
A proposal to ensure savers receive a Pension Wise appointment prior to accessing their retirement pot has received cross-party support in parliament, while Labour seeks net-zero pensions by 2050.
Pension scams are not just about the money lost, but the lives devastated, says Nicola Parish, so the industry must unite to defeat this scourge.