Trustee fined and reported to TPR over transfer delay

The trustee of the Commando 2012 Pension Scheme, Mr Garner, has been ordered to pay a scheme member £3,000, plus the losses he has incurred, and transfer his savings out of the scheme.

The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) ruled that the complaint should be upheld after Garner failed to pay the transfer payment within the statutory timeframe.

The complaint, submitted by ‘Mr R’, was also upheld against the scheme’s administrator, Liddell Dunbar, for failing to provide copies of annual report or members’ annual benefit statements.

Mr R asked for his benefits, totalling around £138,000, to be transferred to PensionBee, after his initial request to withdraw £20,000 through drawdown was taking too long to complete.

He had been suffering from severe ill health and wanted to start drawing down from his pension to allow his wife to reduce her working hours to care for him.

Garner wrote to Mr R’s daughter in April 2018, after months of delay, saying he expected the transfer to go through in mid-May 2018. After this deadline was missed, Mr R brought his complaint to TPO.

Garner has been ordered to pay the complainant £3,000 for the “exceptional distress and inconvenience he has experienced” and a sum that will be quantified on completion of the transfer in respect to additional mortgage interest payments Mr R has incurred.

He was also instructed to pay PensionsBee the transfer value and any investment loss to Mr R that he may incur between 31 May 2018 and the date of the transfer.

Furthermore, Liddell Dunbar has been ordered to pay £2,000 to Mr R for the distress and inconvenience its misadministration has caused.

TPO also noted that it found other concerns in relation to the operation and investment strategy of the scheme.

It has received several complaints concerning the trustee’s failure to action members’ request to withdraw their savings from the scheme and two other schemes of which Garner is the sole trustee, the funds of which are also invested solely in Norton Motorcycle Holdings Limited.

TPO found that Garner was the sole trustee of the schemes, as well as the sole director of Manorcrest, and CEO and owner of Norton Motorcycles.

It stated: “There is a clear conflict between Garner’s interests in respect of Manorcrest and Norton Motorcycles and his duties as trustee of the scheme.

“In allowing this conflict of interest to have arisen and continue, it is possible that Garner has been acting in breach of his fiduciary duty, as a pension scheme trustee, to avoid conflicts of interest and his duty not to profit from his position in relation to Manorcrest Norton Motorcycles at scheme members’ expense.”

As a result, TPO intends to bring these matters to the attention of The Pensions Regulator (TPR).

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