Corporate trustee and its director banned by TPR for ‘serious failings’

A corporate trustee and one of its directors have been banned from acting as pension scheme trustees by The Pensions Regulator (TPR) after several governance failures.

TPR said the governance failings at Audax Pension Trust highlighted the trustee’s “lack of competence, capability and integrity”.

Its investigators found that the trustee had failed to resolve issues with the scheme’s HMRC registration, comply with requirements to take professional advice, carry out transfer requests, make lump sum payments or ensure effective oversight of scheme investments. 

HMRC contacted the trustee of the defined contribution (DC) scheme, after it was established and savers were transferred, explaining it did not regard its administrator, Masons Pensions Administrator, as ‘fit and proper’ and would deregister Audax if the issue was not resolved.

TPR’s investigation found that the trustee was not addressing the issue by appointing a new administrator or transferring members and its almost £1.2m of assets to another scheme, despite given time to do so.

Eight of Audax’s 38 deferred members also made complaints to TPR, including that the trustee had declined transfer requests with inaccurate and inadequate explanations.

TPR issued a warning notice that also outlined problems with Audax’s structure and governance, specifically that it no longer had an employer, administrator or investment adviser, and no scheme bank accounts.

The regulator stated that no responsibility was taken by the trustee to resolve these issues.

TPR’s determination panel appointed Dalriada Trustees as an independent trustee to Audax.

“In this case, the corporate trustee and director showed a severe lack of knowledge and understanding,” commented TPR director of enforcement, Erica Carroll.

“This case shows we will ensure those trustees that fail to meet the statutory requirements and the high standards we expect in respect of scheme governance are stopped from failing other savers by continuing to be able to act as pension trustees.”

In separate, but related, hearings, the determinations panel also appointed Dalriada as independent trustee of two other schemes, the Ploutos Pension Trust and Ganita Wealth Pension Scheme. 

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