A bogus financial adviser who fraudulently manipulated his "clients'" pension funds to avoid paying tax of over ₤1.9m has been jailed at Hull Crown Court for three years.
Colin Pearson (pictured), who previously worked for the Food Standards Agency and held a McDonalds franchise, claimed to be a financial adviser and persuaded his "clients" to release over ₤3.4m from their pension funds.
Pearson completed UK pension transfer forms on behalf of his clients to falsely claim funds were going abroad to avoid paying tax due on the pension withdrawals, said HMRC.
His fraudulent actions netted him commission payments of over £377,000.
He provided fake documentation to register two overseas pension schemes before submitting the fake documents to ensure the funds were released without suspicion or delay to bank accounts he controlled.
On occasions he even made telephone calls to the UK pension companies posing as the policy holder. On one call he disguised his voice with a Cypriot accent giving the impression he was calling from overseas.
To add further legitimacy to the scam, he used articles from the internet to create a PowerPoint presentation to sell the scheme to unsuspecting UK clients, HMRC added.
He then took a cut of the funds before passing the balance onto the pensioners.
In total, Pearson persuaded over thirty UK pension holders to make unauthorised transfers of £3.4m to avoid paying tax of £1.9m.
The value of the funds released was estimated as £3,440,143, of which £2,997,018 was returned to "clients". He also released his own pensions, valued at £74,619.08. In total approximately £377,608 was taken as commission.
He used the proceeds of his scam to maintain a lavish lifestyle, driving expensive cars and owning luxury homes both in the UK and Cyprus.
Bob Gaiger from HM Revenue & Customs said:
"Whilst Pearson was living a life most people could only dream of, he left the individuals he conned out of pocket and without the pension funds they expected.
"HMRC will not tolerate this type of blatant fraud and will investigate and prosecute those found to be involved in stealing from the public purse. If you have any information about tax fraud please contact our 24 hour hotline on 0800 50 5000".
On sentencing Pearson, His Honour Judge Richardson QC, said:
"You are branded a criminal, your life is utterly destroyed, and you are totally dishonest in your deceitful actions."
Spent 56 years at Schroders
Warns on profits
Hargreave Hale seeking legal advice