UK - The Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board (AADB) has initiated an investigation into the conduct of actuaries in relation to the substitution of the sponsoring employer of the First Quench Pension Fund. 

This is the second investigation launched by the AADB relating to advice given to trustees of the pension fund regarding the purchase of First Quench Retailing, owner of the Thresher drinks stores, by Pension Corporation in 2007. 

In a statement the independent disciplinary board confirmed it had launched an investigation under its scheme for the actuarial profession "into the conduct of members of the actuarial profession in connection with an employer substitution in respect of the First Quench Pension Fund".

No specific details can be released regarding the investigation, as it is at "the very beginning of the process", however the board said certain information had come to its attention and it had decided certain aspects needed investigating to determine whether there was possible misconduct by members of the actuarial profession. 

The statement added the scope of the investigation relates to "the conduct of members in relation to the proposed replacement of First Quench Retailing Limited as the sponsoring employer of the First Quench Pension Fund". 

There is no timescale for the investigation, which was launched after consultation with the Institute of Actuaries, but should the process result in the view there may have been misconduct then a tribunal could be convened. 

In April 2009 the AADB announced it had started an investigation into advice provided by an individual and the accountancy and consulting firm Mazars following a complaint by the Pensions regulator (TPR). (See earlier IPE article: AADB to test Mazars' role in PensCorp/ Thresher deal)

The AADB confirmed this investigation, which is being pursued under the accountancy disciplinary section rather than the actuarial, is still ongoing so the two investigations will be run in parallel. 

Inquiries into advice relating to the First Quench deal follows earlier scrutiny of the deal as three weeks after the purchase Pension Corporation sold the firm to Vision Corp but kept full control and liability for the Threshers pension scheme, which had assets of £85m (€95.4m), along with £32m in additional assets from First Quench's balance sheet to be set aside in an escrow account underpinning its liabilities. (See earlier IPE article: Novel approach hits problems

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