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Omni Trustees Ltd and Imperial Trustee Services Ltd wound up following an Insolvency Service Investigation

24 July 2015

Omni Trustees Ltd and Imperial Trustee Services Ltd, which were, respectively, the trustees of the Henley Retirement Benefit Scheme (HRBS) and the Capita Oak Pension Scheme (COPS), were wound up by the High Court on 22 July following an investigation conducted by Company Investigations of the Insolvency Service.

The investigation found that the companies and others were involved in a scheme by which members of the public were cold-called and persuaded to transfer their existing occupational pensions into either HRBS or COPS on the basis of misrepresentations made as to an initial guaranteed rate of return and also on the promise of an entitlement to receive 25% of the fund value at age 55 and, in the case of COPS, of a 5% non repayable “loan”.

The investigation also found that the only investments offered to the public were storage pods marketed for sale by Store First Ltd, which paid commissions of up to 46% to another company which was part of the overall scheme.  Between July 2012 and September 2013 a total of £10.8m was transferred into COPS whilst between December 2012 and January 2014 a further £8.6m was transferred into HRBS and, of the total sum, £13.4m was invested in storage pods whilst a further £3.7m belonging to the HRBS was transferred to another occupational scheme and cannot currently be accounted for. (See link to ‘Suspicious behaviour over missing money’.)

The court heard that there was both a lack of control and a lack of transparency with regard to the operation and management of Omni and Imperial, with the former being abandoned and having no director from October 2014 and there being a lack of clarity as to who was in control of the latter.  The court also heard that, despite administration fees totalling almost £1.4m having been paid to various parties, there was no evidence of any administration of the HRBS and COPS having been carried out.

Lastly, the court also heard that the guaranteed 8% return on investment had not been received by either of the schemes and that an estimated £1.6m was missing.

Scott Crighton, group leader with Company Investigations North said:“The Insolvency Service will investigate and bring to a halt the activities of companies that mislead clients in this way 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 so the safest course of action is to simply ignore them.”