Former trustees to face Crown Court over illegal pension loans

Two former pension scheme trustees are set to appear at Preston Crown Court later this month over allegations that they made illegal loans and investments, in a prosecution brought by The Pensions Regulator (TPR).

Stephen Smith and David Boardman, who were trustees of the Worthington Employee Pension Top Up Scheme, appeared at Preston Magistrates’ Court yesterday (19 October), having been accused of making five prohibited loans from the scheme and one prohibited investment.

Smith pleaded guilty to making five prohibited loans but pleaded not guilty to a sixth charge of making a prohibited investment while Mr Boardman did not enter a plea.

Both men were released on bail and ordered to appear at Preston Crown Court for a plea and trial preparation hearing on 22 November.

Derek Thomas, a professional adviser to the scheme, has also been charged with four counts of assisting or encouraging prohibited loans. Thomas has not yet appeared in court or entered a plea, and is scheduled to attend Preston Magistrates’ Court on 26 October.

The allegations relate to loans and an investment totalling £700,000, including three loans by the scheme to Stonewell Property Company Limited, which was the parent company of the sponsoring employer, Marcus Worthington and Company Ltd.

In addition to this, the scheme made an investment in a retail park where the land had been let on a long lease to companies connected and associated with Marcus Worthington and Company Ltd.

The case is the latest in a number of prosecutions brought by TPR, including a similar case in August when two pension trustees pleaded guilty to making illegal loans worth £236,000 from a company pension scheme to the scheme’s employer.

This is in addition to the successful prosecution of two pension fraudsters earlier in the year, who were jailed for a combined total of more than 10 years for their roles in a scam that saw over 200 savers tricked into transferring £13.7m into fraudulent schemes.

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