Firms charged over mis-selling scandal

Last week the institute’s Financial Services Authorisation Committee meted out penalties of up to £8,000 for firms which missed the 31 December 1998 deadline for completing the first stage of the pension transfers and opt outs review.

The review examined cases where personal pensions were sold to people who would have been better off staying in, or joining, their employer’s scheme.Those fined included RSM Robson Rhodes and Binder Hamlyn – which were handed penalties of £5,000 and £3,500 respectively.

A spokesman for RSM Robson Rhodes said: ‘RSM Robson Rhodes does not agree that it is appropriate to impose a penalty for what was a trivial number of uncleared cases [14 of 22,000 policies]. Nevertheless the regulatory penalty has been accepted to close the matter down and prevent any further waste of time.’Huddersfield-based Revell Ward received the largest penalty of £8,000.

Christine Boddington, head of investment business at the Professional Standards Office, said: ‘There will be more. Phase one is just the start of the pension transfer review. It is well into phase two now although we haven’t got a deadline for completion of phase two cases. This is an on-going saga.’

Between 29 April 1988 and 30 June 1994 there were many cases where the rules governing pensions selling were broken – largely involving independent financial advisers. Far fewer cases involved accountancy firms.

Those firms involved were ordered to contact people who took out personal pensions between these dates and who might be affected and ask them if they want their case checked. In the committee’s opinion, failure to meet the deadline led to a prima facie regulatory breach and required penalties.

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