HMRC Puts QROPS Small Print Under Scrutiny

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The British tax man, HMRC, may not talk about policing QROPS the expat pension schemes much, but behind-the-scenes seems to be carrying an international audit.

Since wiping hundreds of Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS) off the HM Revenue & Customs list in the spring, several providers have undergone adjustments to their expat plans.

Cyprus was erased as a QROPS jurisdiction in a still unexplained major move – and several firms have found themselves under close scrutiny meanwhile.

The latest are the Evergreen Retirement Trust, in New Zealand and the MCT Malta Retirement Scheme.

New Zealand suffered badly when the new generation of QROPS rules were introduced in April, losing a number of providers.

New Zealand QROPS suspended

Now, Evergreen is missing from the latest QROPS list – the database of international providers self-certifying their QROPS comply with HMRC rules.

Trust director agrees the firm is suspended as a provider due to an administrative error, but expects to be restored shortly. Meanwhile, the problem means Evergreen cannot accept transfers, but existing retirement savers are unaffected.

The firm confirmed that they are working with HMRC to prove the scheme is fully compliant as a QROPS.

MCT Malta is back on the list and open for business after removal from the list in October for another technical issue.

Meanwhile, in an anticipated move, Kleinwort Benson is divesting the Close Brothers offshore business bought last year to QROPS specialist Overseas Trust & Pension.

New QROPS on the way

Kleinwort has declared QROPS are not business they wish to focus on.

“The high net worth and corporate businesses bought from Close Brothers are an excellent match with the Kleinwort Benson core business,” said Clive Wright, managing director of Kleinwort Benson’s Private Wealth Management, Offshore.

“Retail packaged trusts and pension plans are innovative and are doing well, but are not  a market that interests  us, so we have sought a partner which has the experience to grow this business while giving clients an efficient service.”

Overseas Trust & Pension anticipates to launch new QROPS and other investment products in the coming months, according to a statement from spokesman David Higgins.

“Our business is not reliant on QROPS. I think relying on one product is dangerous for a business, so we will expand on other trust and retirement products already on offer from Kleinwort Benson.,” he said.

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