BLAENAU Gwent MP Nick Smith has called for police forces in South Wales to investigate rogue financial advisers who targeted British Steel pensioners in 2017.
Leading a special parliamentary debate this morning (10/4/19), Mr Smith said cases where pensions were mis-sold were actually “complicated cases of fraud.”
He added that, so far, the Financial Compensation Services Scheme has paid out £1.8 million to steelworkers who were ripped off.
Two years ago, when the British Steel Pension Scheme began restructuring, scheme members were given a hard deadline to make the difficult choice of whether to transfer out or not.
Mr Smith told the debate that amid this uncertainty “pensions sharks soon began to circle around key steelworking sites across South Wales and the rest of the country.”
Mr Smith gave the example of a constituent in Blaenau Gwent who was targeted by a rogue financial adviser at their caravan, while enjoying a family holiday.
Mr Smith said that although many were tempted by promises of better returns, many of these turned out to be high-risk investments that also came with a large fee.
A total of 7,800 steelworkers transferred out altogether, 872 of them had transfers arranged by firms that were eventually ordered to stop advising by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Mr Smith said: “One steelworker lost almost £200,000. Many others lost tens of thousands of pounds. Many suffered incredible stress and anxiety.”
Mr Smith has been calling for action since news of the scandal broke and is now calling for police involvement if the FCA is unable to secure justice for those targeted.
“If the FCA isn’t going to do it, local police forces in South Wales need to pursue what appear to be complicated cases of fraud,” he said.
“The crimes are committed locally, the losses are clear, often substantial, and those responsible are identifiable.
“So, I call on police forces across South Wales to open files and thoroughly investigate these cases and whether they amount to fraud.
“Criminal investigations have to start. If they don’t, I would call on the forces to state publicly why not.”
He added: “We need to make sure that hardworking people see their hard-earned money better protected in the future.”