The chief executive and trustee chair of Discovery Flexibles Limited has been convicted of refusing to answer The Pensions Regulator’s (TPR) questions and banned from being a trustee.
Thomas Christopher Wrigley “repeatedly refused to comply with TPR’s requests for information in connection with an investigation into how the scheme was being run”.
A whistle-blower informed TPR that Wrigley, as trustee chair, was considering investing more than £1.2m of pension scheme funds in Discovery Flexibles.
There are restrictions on the proportion of a workplace pension scheme’s fund that trustees can invest in a sponsoring employer.
Concerned that Wrigley may be breaching these restrictions, TPR launched its investigation.
When asked to respond to TPR’s questions, Wrigley threatened the TPR case manager involved by saying: “If you cross me again I will come after you, personally, with my legal team”.
Wrigley was fined £400 and banned from action as a pension scheme trustee by TPR’s Determinations Panel.
TPR executive director of frontline regulation, Nicola Parish commented: “Wrigley earned himself a criminal record by refusing to give us the information he was legally required to.
“His behaviour towards TPR staff doing their job was intolerable so I welcome the fact that the Determination Panel took this into consideration when it decided to prohibit him.”
Following the tip off, TPR was concerned about Wrigley’s integrity, his inappropriate behaviour and his failure to manage the conflict of interest that had arisen from his being both chairman of the pension scheme trustees and CEO of the sponsoring employer.
The Determinations Panel found: “There was, over a relatively short period, an evolution of Mr Wrigley’s conduct, from the initiation of a proposal which, as a trustee, he should never have made or pursued, to an obdurate and aggressive attitude of non-cooperation with the regulator, all of which demonstrated that he was not a fit and proper person to be a trustee.”