UK – A call from the Pensions Ombudsman for tighter regulation of independent trustees has had a cool reception.

The Ombudsman, David Laverick, called for regulation of independent trustees in a speech at the Society of Pension Consultants. And he criticised trustees’ fees, saying: “There is a lack of control over fees, or even the basis of charges. You will get some schemes where the deficit is caused by fees.”

National Association of Pension Funds spokesman Andy Fleming said more regulation was not the answer when the industry was “crying out for less”.

“Our view is that the last thing the industry needs is more red tape,” he said.

The Pensions Management Institute said the industry needs to regulate itself. “The government usually misses the boat when it regulates,” said PMI council member Tony Ashmore. The PMI is currently drawing up a code of conduct for independent trustees, which Ashmore said should be up and running by the spring of next year.

He said the idea is that the code will be operational and be ready to be used by the successor body to the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority. Ashmore said there had been a lot of interest in the code.

The plan is to have “a proper code of conduct that people will have to abide by,” Ashmore added.

Separately, OPRA said it has successfully prosecuted the director of a company in the Crown Court for the criminal charge of fraudulent evasion for failing to pay over employee pension contributions.

OPRA said Peter Lavender was charged with seven offences of “being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of the requirement to pay over employee contributions to the trustees of his company's pension scheme for the months June 2000 to December 2000”.

He was ordered to pay compensation to three pension scheme members and fined 1,000 pounds.