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Stop the presses: onshore schemes are focus of UK pension-busting probe

July 16, 2013

Critics of the international pensions industry expressed surprise today when it emerged that no offshore pension schemes, or QROPS, are involved in High Court proceedings that began in London today.

At least, that’s what sources involved in the international pensions industry told International Adviser, explaining that there had been a widespread perception, particularly in certain onshore UK circles, that The Pension Regulator’s crackdown on pension liberation schemes would, at least in part, focus on offshore pension products, such as QROPS.

Instead, they noted, the cases being heard today were being brought by the UK authorities in an effort to determine what, exactly, constitutes an “occupational pension scheme” under the law. None of the schemes involved in the case was located outside the UK, and the point of law at issue was said to be whether people who did not work for a particular company were entitled to participate in the occupational pension scheme of that company.

“For once, it seems, onshore is looking rotten to the core, while offshore is clean as a whistle,” said the head of one offshore pension scheme administrator, who requested anonymity.

Another source, who also asked not to be named, noted that assumptions overseas pension schemes might be caught up in the regulator's crackdown on pension liberation reflects a perception that "offshore" entities are in some way "dodgier" than their onshore counterparts, to the point where many people in offshore financial services avoid using the "'O' word", in favour of "international".

The image of offshore pension fund administrators is seen by some to have got a boost recently, with the news, in June, that HMRC applied to withdraw its long-running case against a group of investors who were fighting a decision by the Revenue to pursue them for tax and charges of up to 55% of the amount they transferred to a Singapore-based QROP scheme known as ROSIIP.

 


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The Pensioneer Trustee Company (Guernsey) Limited is licensed by the Guernsey Financial Services Commission under The Regulation of Fiduciaries, Administration Businesses and Company Directors, etc. (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2000 and subject to The Pension Licensees (Conduct of Business) & Domestic and International Pension Scheme and Gratuity Scheme Rules (No.2) 2017.