The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is preparing for a high-profile court case against an alleged liberation fraud operation in the hope it will secure a clear ruling that the practice is illegal.
TPR executive director of defined contribution (DC), governance and administration Andrew Warwick-Thompson said the regulator is preparing for two court cases involving liberation schemes.
One of these will lead on from Operation Neame, which culminated in a police raid on offices in the City of London, Cheshire, Glasgow, and Ayr (PP Online, 9 May).
Warwick-Thompson said TPR and the trustees it put in place to run the schemes after the arrests were made will argue before the court in order to get a "clear ruling" on whether pension liberation schemes are illegal.
He added that a second, similar court case involves a scheme that has had £150m in funds pass through it over the past few years.
He said: "We have 26 active cases, four of which we are concentrating on because they are very active, and two of which are very large indeed."
Warwick-Thompson said TPR has targeted scams which it believes have been "franchised" by smaller operations, in an attempt to stamp out copycat vehicles.
"We are going for the big ones where we are sure they are significant models. If we attack those and take them down it will be a very clear message to the criminal justice community and the criminals," he said.
This comes after TPR chairman Michael O' Higgins said the regulator is looking for a more "systemic" way of tackling liberation fraud, rather than investigating single schemes as and when they appear (PP Online, 13 June).
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