The Pensions Regulator’s executive director of frontline regulation, Nicola Parish, said that Bessant had used the pension scheme for his own personal benefit and, as an accountant was a trusted advisor.
She added, “[Bessant] abused that trust and used his position as trustee to defraud the scheme for his benefit and the benefit of his friends and family.
“Trustees play a vital role in protecting the benefits of members. We will not tolerate the abuse of such an important job.” **
Bessent worked for the Focusplay Retirement Benefit Scheme and abused his position to channel scheme members’ funds into businesses he either owned or had an interest in. Hearing the case at Preston Crown Court, Judge Nicholas Barker characterised Bessent as a “selfish and greedy” man who had placed his own interests above those of his ordinary and hard-working clients.
The Pensions Regulator reports that Bessent used £120,000 of stolen funds to buy an investment property, used other money to pay his business’s tax liability, and yet more money as capital for his son-in-law’s physiotherapy start-up. **
“You used their money as your own. You knew what you were doing was dishonest and wrong,” said the judge.***
Guy Opperman, minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion, said that the custodial sentence should serve as a warning that any person who abuses a position of trust to defraud pension scheme members will face meaningful justice. ***
Furthermore, Opperman said that The Pensions Regulator will be given new powers to enforce sanctions for a new offence relating to pension schemes of wilful or reckless behaviour which will be punishable by up to seven years in prison or unlimited fines. ***
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*Case No.s: T20190117 & T20190118 – Defendant Roger William Bessant, Dates: 27-022019, 29-03-2019, 08-04-2019 https://www.thelawpages.com/court-hearings-lists/crown-court-lists-results.php
** ThePensionsRegulator.gov.uk: accessed 09-04-19
*** FTAdviser.com: accessed 09-04-19