A pension firm offering retirement savers a guaranteed return on investment from a dubious storage pod scheme was wound up in the public interest in the High Court.
No one turned up to represent Chartwell Trustee Pension Solutions Ltd at the hearing.
Judge Sebastian Prentis was told the government’s Insolvency Service started an investigation after receiving a flood of complaints about the company.
Investigators found the firm, based in Bromley, Kent, had collected £4.8 million in pension transfers after cold-calling random retirement savers to offer a guaranteed 8% investment return for two years.
Savers were told that their money would be staked in ‘storage products’, but the company could not provide records explaining how the money was invested.
The company also failed to explain how their investments were performing to savers and did not provide any annual returns.
As a result, investigators could not put together a clear picture of how the company traded, while accounting records were incomplete, inconsistent, and contradicted information provided to The Pensions Regulator.
Judge Prentis found that the company operated with a lack of commercial probity, a lack of transparency, and without any presence at its registered office address.
He said that it was appropriate, desirable, and in the interest of investors to make an order to place the company into insolvent liquidation.
Investigation supervisor Irshard Mohammed, of the Insolvency Service, said: “Those behind companies such as Chartwell should be aware that the Insolvency Service will not tolerate such abuses of the corporate regime. It is telling that this situation appears to have arisen from telephone cold-calling.
“Members of the public should be most wary when approached with investment proposals or proposals of how to manage their pension, through unsolicited telephone calls.”
Chartwell’s only director at the time of winding up was Christopher Payne. He is also a former director of Imperial Trustee Services Ltd, another company wound up in the public interest.
Imperial also cold-called savers to try to persuade them to transfer their pension funds under the company’s control and to invest in storage pods. The scheme involved almost £20 million of which £3.7 million was not traced.