Fast Pensions Ltd and five other related firms have been wound up in the public interest at the High Court on 30 May 2018. The Official Receiver in the Public Interest Unit (North) is now the liquidator of all six companies.
Between 2012 and 2013, 520 people were encouraged to transfer their pension savings from existing providers into one of 15 schemes, with Fast Pensions acting as the sponsoring employer.
FP Scheme Trustees Ltd (FPST) was the trustee of all 15 pension schemes and a proportion of the funds were invested in the remaining four related finance companies.
The Insolvency Service was made aware of complaints about the management and operation of the companies and following an investigation, the High Court ordered that Fast Pensions and the five related companies be put into provisional liquidation in March 2018 following a petition presented by the Secretary of State.
Investigations found that a total of at least £21 million was invested into the 15 schemes and people were persuaded to transfer their savings through various methods. Some received cold calls questioning the performance of their pension funds or offering free pension reviews.
Others who were originally looking for credit were advised by the connected finance companies that they could get a loan if they transferred their pension savings to one of Fast Pensions’ schemes.
Advice provided was inadequate as the companies misrepresented the schemes on offer. Advisors also failed to disclose information around returns and the high risk and illiquid nature of the investments made by the schemes, as well as the benefits members would be entitled to.
Scheme members were also informed that the investments would consist of a wide ranging portfolio but investigators found that funds were misused. At least £4 million was used to pay commissions and the remaining funds were largely used to make loans to companies and other entities which appear to be connected with Fast Pensions and FPST.
The six companies failed to preserve, maintain or produce adequate accounting records and failed to cooperate fully with the investigation. This made it impossible for investigators to determine the full extent of the companies’ activities, the nature and value of the investments made or the value of the members’ pension funds.
David Hope, Chief Investigator for the Insolvency Service said:
People work long and hard to put money away for their retirements but the six companies that have been shut down paid scant regard to their members. They used unsavory tactics to attract members and failed to paint the full picture as to what would really happen with their savings.
By shutting the companies down, the courts have put a stop to their unscrupulous activities and we hope this sends a strong message that we will robustly investigate and take action where people’s funds and savings are at risk.
The Official Receiver has made an application to The Pensions Regulator for the appointment of an independent Trustee to take over the running of the pension schemes and it is anticipated that the application will take 4 to 6 weeks to complete. Further updates will be publicised in due course.
Until the application is completed the Official Receiver will continue to act as the trustee to the pension schemes and, in doing so:
- will take steps to protect the investments and assets in the pension schemes
- will not make investment decisions during the period of appointment
- is unable to provide updates regarding an individual’s pension, or to authorise transfers out of the schemes, or to make any payments out of the schemes, including death benefits
- is unable to provide advice to pension members regarding their pensions
Members of the pension schemes who require advice should consider contacting a solicitor, a regulated financial advisor or the Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) on: 0800 011 3797 ; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
All public enquiries concerning the affairs of the companies should be made to: The Official Receiver, Public Interest Unit (North), PO Box 16663, Birmingham, B2 2JP; email: email@example.com.
Notes to editors
The six companies that are subject to compulsory liquidation are:
- Fast Pensions Ltd, CRO 08121954, incorporated on 28 June 2012 and the registered office: Crown House, 27 Old Gloucester Street, London WC1N 3AX
- FP Scheme Trustees Ltd, CRO 09126225, incorporated on 11 July 2014 and the registered office: 20-22 Wenlock Road, London N1 7GU
- Blu Debt Management Ltd, CRO 06699233, incorporated on 16 September 2008 and the registered office: Gilbert Wakefield House, 67 Bewsey Street, Warrington WA2 7JQ
- Blu Financial Services Ltd, CRO 05912973, incorporated on 22 August 2006, and the registered office: Gilbert Wakefield House, 67 Bewsey Street, Warrington WA2 7JQ
- Blu Personal Finance Ltd, CRO 07758290, incorporated on 31 August 2011 and the registered office: - Gilbert Wakefield House, 67 Bewsey Street, Warrington WA2 7JQ
- Umbrella Loans Ltd, CRO 07331044, incorporated on 30 July 2010 and the registered office: Gilbert Wakefield House, 67 Bewsey Street, Warrington WA2 7JQ
The 15 pension schemes involved:
- Broughton Retirement Plan
- DM1 Retirement Plan
- Elphinstone Retirement Plan
- EP1 Retirement Plan
- Fleming Retirement Plan
- FP1 Retirement Plan
- FP2 Retirement Plan
- FP3 Retirement Plan
- Galileo Retirement Plan
- Golden Arrow Retirement Plan
- Leafield Retirement Plan
- Springdale Retirement Plan
- Talisman Retirement Plan
- Templar Retirement Plan
- VRSEB Retirement Plan