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IPE special report May 2018

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UK pension theft case highlights role of actuaries

UK – A report into the theft of £2.9m (€4.2m) from a UK pension fund has highlighted the role of the scheme actuary and asset managers in detecting wrongdoing.

The Serious Fraud Office last week announced that Kevin Sykes and four associates had been prosecuted and imprisoned over their role in plundering the £3.1m scheme of Birmingham-based lock maker CW Cheney & Son Ltd.

And the Department of Work and Pensions has today released a 35-page report into the affair by lawyer Sir Gerald Hosker – which emphasized the role of the actuary and made recommendations about the role of fund managers.

Hosker noted that the now disbanded Occupational Pension Regulatory Authority intervened to appoint a trustee in October 2000 following information from the fund actuaries.

By December 2000 the case had been referred to the Serious Fraud Office and an investigation was opened in conjunction with the West Midlands Police, the SFO said.

Hosker also recommended that the now disbanded Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority should consider requiring pension fund investment managers to get confirmation when large sums are divested from schemes.

The report added that managers should report “any divestments known or suspected to be materially at variance with the duties of a trustee”.

A DWP spokesman said the names of the actuary and fund manager could not be disclosed.

The fraud office said Sykes had been trading fraudulently as a so-called "creditor resistance strategist" under the business name of White Knight.

“This was a callous and ruthlessly executed fraud designed from the start to steal the Cheney pension fund by setting up a system of puppet trustees who instead of protecting the fund helped to plunder it,” said SFO senior case lawyer Philip Blakebrough.

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