The High Court ordered those behind a series of scam pension schemes to pay back £13.7 million following a request by The Pensions Regulator.

Members of the public were convinced to transfer their pensions into schemes whose funds were syphoned into accounts in the name of Friendly Pensions Limited and The Friendly Investment Company plc. These companies are both in liquidation with Michael Leeds & Nicholas Wood of Grant Thornton UK LLP appointed as Liquidators. Both also act as Trustee in Bankruptcy of the individual whom the Judge described as the ‘kingpin’ fraudster, David Austin.

As part of the Liquidators’ and Trustees’ investigations, an extensive tracing exercise into the flow of funds was carried out through offshore jurisdictions involving both criminal and civil proceedings in Switzerland, Cyprus and Andorra using local counsel. It transpired that Mr Austin’s family members were used in name to set up various companies to receive the misplaced funds. These family members, when interviewed by the Liquidators, claimed no knowledge of these entities and claimed to have been tricked into signing documents or providing their passport. The evidence obtained from these investigations supported The Pension Regulators’ claim.

This case demonstrates the extent of an Insolvency Practitioner’s power of investigation, particularly in overseas jurisdictions, and how it can be used to evidence fraud to recover misappropriated funds for victims.

The Liquidators' and Trustees' investigations were critical to the The Pension Regulators’ case.

Watch this space!