Two Preston pension firms have been forced to stop trading after being investigated for mis-selling.Advertisement
Gleeson Bessent Trustee Services Ltd and Gleeson Bessent Trustees Ltd have been wound up by the High Court in late March.
It follows allegations the firms, which operated from offices at Preston Docks, over-charge for fees on pensions, failed to obtain independent investment advice and operated with a lack of transparency.
An investigation by The Insolvency Service found the firms had generated more than £3.5million in management fees from nine pension schemes during the past three years. It found the firms had been adding on initial fees of £1,645 on top of its annual management fee.
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The investigation also found the companies failed to adequately carry out their trustee role by neglecting to obtain independent investment advice, failing to comply with their own governance statements and by failing to adhere to pensions legislation and guidance issued by the Pensions Regulator; In particular, by making loans from the schemes to the sponsoring employer as well as to associated companies and individuals.
The court heard there had been a failure to ensure share certificates were obtained in return for investments made, that the companies had operated with a lack of transparency, particularly in not ensuring that investors were aware their funds were being put into high risk investments, and that members of the schemes were offered contrived and artificial employment in order to comply with guidance then in place.
Group leader with Company Investigations North Scott Crighton said: “The Insolvency Service will investigate and bring to a halt the activities of companies that fail to meet the required standard for dealing with investment funds placed with them by members of the public and that are found to be operating against the public interest.
“For their own protection, members of the public need to be wary of any uninvited contact offering them a free pension review and to be aware that many of the products on offer are unregulated and high risk or may even be outright scams and the safest course of action is to simply ignore them.”
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The firms operated pensions for employers such as Focusplay and PSP.