A convicted fraudster has been ordered to repay £292,000 which he transferred from savers’ pension pots and funnelled into businesses he part-owned.
The repayment order follows a confiscation hearing at Preston Crown Court yesterday (28 October) brought by The Pensions Regulator (TPR).
The fraudster, Roger William Bessent of Lytham St Annes in Lancashire, was sentenced to more than three years in jail following a prosecution by TPR in March last year.
It was found that Bessent had stolen pension funds from the Focusplay Retirement Benefit Scheme (FRBS) while acting as both a trustee and as the scheme's administrator.
The stolen monies were then transferred into businesses part-owned by Bessent which were run by members of his family, and a client.
He will now have to return the full amount stolen within the allotted three-month timeframe or serve an additional 30-month jail term, after which the funds would still be due and with added interest.
TPR director of enforcement Erica Carroll said: "Bessent held a position of trust which he abused for his own gain - stealing money meant for hardworking scheme members' retirements.
"TPR is determined that criminals such as Bessent are not only punished for their crimes, but also do not benefit financially. The money he stole will now be returned for the benefit of the scheme members he took it from."
The case against Bessent - an accountant - came in 2019 after investigations by both TPR and the Insolvency Service and was the first time a prosecution by TPR has led to an immediate custodial sentence.
At the time of the sentencing last March, pensions and financial inclusion minister Guy Opperman said: "Fraudsters who abuse positions of trust to line their own pockets with other people's hard-earned savings will feel the full force of the law.
"We're determined to protect everyone's pensions which is why we're introducing a new offence of wilful or reckless behaviour relating to a pension scheme, punishable by up to seven years in jail or unlimited fines."
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