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Ex-Ericsson fund chairman banned for dishonesty

UK - A former HR manager at mobile phone giant, Ericsson, has been struck off as a trustee for trying to fiddle benefit calculations to the tune of £13.4m (€20m).

In addition, David John Foster accepted for himself an "exceptionally favourable second deferred pension", according to The Pensions Regulator.

Foster attempted to secure pensions for senior executives at one-thirtieth accrual rate and unreduced benefits from the age of 50.

He attempted the deception while chairman of the 5,000-strong Ericsson Employee Benefits Scheme, passing the changes off as normal procedure when they required sponsor approval.

After an extensive investigation, which was started by "whistleblower support" in July 2005, Foster was found unfit to perform the role of trustee of any trust-based pension scheme.

This is the first time the Pensions Regulator, created under the Pensions Act 2004, has disqualified a trustee.

The Regulator told IPE it had initially treated this as a criminal investigation which was not  continued due to insufficient evidence.

The Pensions Regulator also found that Foster had failed to identify and handle conflicts of interest arising from his roles as chairman of the corporate trustee and as human resources manager.

As soon as the Pension Regulator started its investigation it appointed Law Debenture as independent trustee directors to the scheme, according to a spokesman for Ericsson. The company has since re-appointed Law Debenture as independent trustee directors.

"David Foster abused the huge responsibility of trust invested in him by Ericsson and let down the members of the pension scheme. It is absolutely right and proper that he has no further involvement as a trustee of any pension scheme," said June Mulroy, the Pensions Regulator's executive director of business delivery.

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