The investigation found that the companies and others were involved in a scheme by which members of the public were cold-called and persuaded to transfer their existing occupational pensions into either HRBS or COPS on the basis of misrepresentations made as to an initial guaranteed rate of return and also on the promise of an entitlement to receive 25% of the fund value at age 55 and, in the case of COPS, of a 5% non repayable ‘loan’.
The investigation also found that the only investments offered to the public were storage pods marketed for sale by Store First Ltd, which paid commissions of up to 46% to another company which was part of the overall scheme. Between July 2012 and September 2013 a total of £10.8m was transferred into COPS whilst between December 2012 and January 2014 a further £8.6m was transferred into HRBS and, of the total sum, £13.4m was invested in storage pods whilst a further £3.7m belonging to the HRBS was transferred to another occupational scheme and cannot currently be accounted for.
The court heard that there was both a lack of control and a lack of transparency with regard to the operation and management of Omni and Imperial, with the former being abandoned and having no director from October 2014 and there being a lack of clarity as to who was in control of the latter. The court also heard that, despite administration fees totaling almost £1.4m having been paid to various parties, there was no evidence of any administration of the HRBS and COPS having been carried out.
Lastly, the court also heard that the guaranteed 8% return on investment had not been received by either of the schemes and that an estimated £1.6m was missing.
Scott Crighton, Group Leader with Company Investigations North said:
The Insolvency Service will investigate and bring to a halt the activities of companies that mislead clients in this way and that are found to be operating against the public interest.
For their own protection, members of the public need to be wary of any uninvited contact offering them a free pension review and to be aware that many of the products on offer are unregulated and high risk or may even be outright scams and so the safest course of action is to simply ignore them.
Notes to editors
Imperial Trustee Services Ltd – company registration number 08133190 – was incorporated on 06 July 2012. The company’s registered office is at c/o Downs & Company, 21-25 North Street,
Bromley, Kent, BR1 1SD.
Omni Trustees Ltd – company registration number 08175702 – was incorporated on 10 August 2012. The company’s registered office is at c/o Irwin & Company, Station House, Midland Drive, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B72 1TU.
The petitions to wind-up Imperial Trustee Services Ltd and Omni Trustees Ltd were presented under s124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 on 27 May 2015. The Official Receiver was initially appointed as Provisional Liquidator of Omni Trustees Ltd on 3 June 2015 and of Imperial Trustee Services Ltd on 5 June 2015 and was then appointed as Liquidator of both companies on 22 July 2015.
Company Investigations, part of the Insolvency Service, uses powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS).
Further information about live company investigations is available here.
The Insolvency Service administers the insolvency regime, investigating all compulsory liquidations and individual insolvencies (bankruptcies) through the Official Receiver to establish why they became insolvent. It may also use powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK. In addition, the agency authorises and regulates the insolvency profession, deals with disqualification of directors in corporate failures, assesses and pays statutory entitlement to redundancy payments when an employer cannot or will not pay employees, provides banking and investment services for bankruptcy and liquidation estate funds and advises ministers and other government departments on insolvency law and practice.
Further information about the work of the Insolvency Service, and how to complain about financial misconduct, is available.
Any members of HRBS or COPS who have not yet provided their details to the Official Receiver should contact his office by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or, in the alternative, by post to: The Official Receiver, Public Interest Unit, 2nd Floor, 3 Piccadilly Place, London Road, Manchester, M1 3BN.
Members should ensure that they quote the name of one of the companies in liquidation and should provide their full name, address (including email) and details of the pension transferred to either HRBS or COPS.
Media enquiries for this press release – 020 7596 6187
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