People behind £13.7m pension scam banned from being trustees

The four people behind a pension scam worth £13.7m have been banned from being trustees of pension schemes, The Pensions Regulator has said.

David Austin, Susan Dalton, Alan Barratt and Julian Hanson ran a scam that cost 245 people their pension savings, after the members were persuaded using cold-calling and other techniques to transfer their pensions into one of 11 scam schemes.

Austin, who was described as the “mastermind”, has also been banned from being a company director for 12 years.

The victims of the scam were informed that if they transferred their pension pots to the sham schemes then they would receive a tax-free payment from investments, commonly known as a “commission rebate”.

The perpetrators were ordered to repay the millions of pounds they took from the schemes after TPR brought proceedings against them in the High Court in January.

The Court found that Austin had transferred funds from the schemes to his bank account and the accounts of his family members in the UK, Switzerland and Andorra.

TPR’s Determinations Panel said: “The panel concluded that the evidence in relation to Mr Austin’s conduct was so serious, and his involvement in the receiving schemes was so close and influential, as to warrant his prohibition from acting as a trustee of trust schemes in general.”

Although Austin had not been appointed as a trustee of any of the schemes, TPR’s panel ruled TPR should take action as he had been “dishonestly involved in the misuse or misappropriation of scheme assets”.

The panel also ruled that the other three accused should be banned from being trustees “both for their dishonesty but also because of the amounts of money they took from the schemes”.

Austin and his family had derived at least £1.3m of benefit from the scam. Barratt had been paid more than £380,000, Dalton more than £168,000 and Hanson around £7,000.

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