The English ICA has imposed one of its biggest ever penalties on the former finance director of collapsed ovenmaker Belling for handing over $3.5m (#2.2m) of the company’s pension fund to a corrupt solicitor.
Michael Stewart, of Amersham, Buckinghamshire, was also found guilty of recklessly spending #5.5m of the fund’s money on an investment which led to a further #4m loss. Some 180 pensioners have already suffered financial hardship, and a further 1,300 fund members will be hit when they retire.
The events were a desperate attempt to save Belling, famous for its Baby Belling cooker, from its 1992 collapse. Stewart, a pension fund trustee, paid $3.5m from the pension fund to former solicitor Charles Deacon as downpayment on a $50m loan for the company. The loan failed to materialise, the down-payment disappeared, and Deacon was jailed for nine years.
In the second transaction, the fund handed over #5.5m for a Belling company which was later sold for just #1.4m.
Imposing a censure, a #5,000 fine with #15,000 costs, an institute disciplinary committee said Stewart, until recently finance director of Domino Printing Sciences, had acted in a negligent and reckless manner against the best interests of beneficiaries.
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