Former charity head jailed for £250k pension fraud

The former chief executive of a charity and trustee of its pension scheme has been sentenced to five years in jail for defrauding the scheme out of over £250,000.

The the time of the fraud, Patrick McLarry, 71, was both the chief executive and chairman of Yateley Industries for the Disabled, a charity that seeks to secure employment for people with disabilities.

He was also a director of VerdePlanet Limited, the corporate trustee of the charity’s pension scheme.

McLarry used £256,127 from the charity pension scheme to buy a home and a small warehouse in the south of France, a house in Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, and repay a debt he owed over the purchase of a pub lease in Portsmouth.

Judge Andrew Barnett said McLarry had acted with appalling dishonesty and breach of trust, adding he had “milked the pension fund of considerable funds, spent entirely for your own needs and your wife”.

The prosecution was brought about by The Pensions Regulator (TPR), which will seek a confiscation order to force McLarry to give back the funds he took from the scheme.

He had admitted one charge of fraud at a court hearing in November, before attempting to change his plea to not guilty.

He attempted to evade justice by forging documents, lying to TPR investigators about who owned the properties involved and refusing to hand over vital evidence.

Work and Pensions Secretary, Therese Coffey, said: "Defrauding disabled people of their hard-earned pension savings is a despicable crime. I welcome today's sentence.

“This government will ensure that individuals who pocket people's retirement funds feel the full force of the law. To protect savers further we are introducing new laws, with a maximum jail term of seven years, for those who wilfully or recklessly endanger pensions.”

TPR executive director of frontline regulation, Nicola Parish, added: “Patrick McLarry held himself out as a pillar of the community. We were determined that he should face justice for defrauding pension savers.

“This sends a clear warning that we will use the full force of our powers and work with partner enforcement agencies to protect pension savers.”

The case was originally meant to be heard on 13 December, but was adjourned for "legal reasons".

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