Two suspected pension liberation schemes that received almost £20 million of fund transfers have gone into provisional liquidation following action by the government’s Insolvency Service.
The firms administered the Henley Retirement Benefit Scheme and the Capita Oak Pension Scheme.
Both had attracted consumer complaints and adverse rulings from the Pensions Ombudsman in recent weeks.
Much of the money was invested in self-storage units, although allegedly Capita Oak also made payments from pension funds to retirement savers under 55 years old.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) views these payments as unauthorised pension withdrawals and intends to charge the retirement savers involved tax at 55% on the value of their r=transfer fund.
High court hearings
The firms were placed into provisional administration at separate High Court hearings,
Omni Trustees was the administrator for the Henley scheme, which was said to have received £8.6 million from retirement savers. The trustees invested £3.6 million in self-storage units and £3.7million was held in cash, but was transferred to another scheme in July 2014.
Imperial Trustee Services Ltd administered Capita Oak, which received £10.8 million from pension savers.
The Insolvency Service said Capita Oak suffered from the arrival and departure of several directors in quick succession and failed to transfer benefits after requests from retirement savers.
The Pensions Ombudsman has ordered the scheme to transfer the cash – but told savers the likelihood they would see their money was slim at best and alleged the scheme was involved in pension liberation activities.
No further information about the cases is available until the petitions to wind up the companies are heard in Manchester in July.
The ombudsman has made a series of ruling about Capita Oak, mainly against consumers who complained their original pension provider transferred their money to a pension liberation scheme causing them losses.
In one case, a NHS executive put more than £300,000 into Capita. He received a non-repayable loan of £17,500 and was told the rest of his cash was invested in storage units that offered a potential return of between 8% and 10% a year,
The ombudsman ruled against the consumers with the view that they had the right to transfer their money from one provider to another, even if the provider at the end of the chain was involved in pension liberation or unlocking.
Liberation or pension unlocking is allowing someone aged under 55 years old access to the cash tied up in their fund.