REGULATORS FAILED to prevent fraudsters "systematically plundering" £3m from a company pension, according to an inquiry by Sir Gerald Hosker QC published yesterday, reports the Daily Telegraph .
Five defendants were sentenced to a total of 26 years' imprisonment following complex thefts from the pension scheme at Birmingham locksmiths CW Cheney, says the paper.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) commissioned Sir Gerald to examine the role of the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (Opra), which was replaced by the Pensions Regulator in April.
For legal reasons, his inquiry does not name the defendants - who stood trial separately - but Sir George's report states: "The key individual was successful in the implementation of his intention to denude the Cheney pension scheme of almost all its assets.
"The ease with which he accomplished that can be largely attributed to a failure by a number of Opra officials to co-ordinate effectively."
Phone calls and an email to the Pensions Regulator went unanswered yesterday. When a press officer was finally tracked down she said: "We are not commenting on this case because we are a different organisation." She said she did not know how many people had lost their pensions at CW Cheney "because we have not been briefed".
FIDELITY INTERNATIONAL, one of the UK's largest fund managers with £131bn of assets under management, has published its voting record at shareholder meetings for the first time, says the Financial Times.
It revealed how Fidelity had voted on every motion proposed by all the companies in which it invests in the UK, the rest of Europe, the US and Asia between July 1 2004 and June 2005. The record for June alone ran to 388 pages.
The company said it had been considering doing this for some time. It said: "It was the next logical step," given that Fidelity's sister company already published its voting record in the US, where disclosure of voting is mandatory.
Alan MacDougall, managing director of Pirc, the pension and research consultancy which has been campaigning for UK companies to publicise their voting records, said: "This is a very welcome development, given that many view Fidelity as one of the most secretive fund managers."
Fidelity's move comes after the government last week issued its company law reform bill, which included a clause on voting disclosure.
THE CORPORATE banker Peter Cummings notched up a fresh coup yesterday as HBOS banked a £17.5m profit from an equity stake in New Star Asset Management, says the Times.
Mr Cummings, best known as the man who bankrolled Philip Green, lent money to New Star when it bought some funds from Aberdeen Asset Management in 2003.
At the same time, HBOS bought 12.5 million shares in New Star for about 85p. Yesterday it sold the holding at the placing price of 225p for £28m. The stake was held by Uberior Investments, the HBOS subsidiary that takes stakes in unlisted loan customers, including an 8% holding in Arcadia, Mr Green’s clothing stores group.
Cummings pioneered “integrated finance deals” in which the bank provides debt and takes an equity stake. The specialist department was set up in 2000 and is run by Graeme Shankland.
AEGON UK, the Edinburgh-based arm of Dutch financial services giant Aegon, has parted company with Colin McLatchie, the head of its asset management business, according to the Scotsman.
McLatchie, who had run the operation for four years, was replaced immediately by Andrew Fleming as managing director. Fleming, 46, joined Aegon in January as chief investment officer and will retain this responsibility in addition to his new role.
Aegon chief executive Otto Thoresen said: "Aegon Asset Management has an outstanding reputation in fixed income. The challenge is to extend this to the equity side of the business. Andrew Fleming has the leadership skills and investment expertise to make that happen."
There was no praise for McLatchie.
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