The former head of a charity for the disabled has admitted defrauding the charity’s pension scheme out of more than £250,000.
Patrick McLarry, 71, has pleaded guilty to fraud at Salisbury Crown Court, in a case brought by The Pensions Regulator.
McLarry used these pension funds to buy property in France and Hampshire and also paid off personal debts.
TPR said it is now seeking a confiscation order so monies will be repaid in full, helping boost the retirement savings of dozens of disabled workers who were employed by the charity, Yately Industries for the Disabled.
At the time of committing the fraud, McLarry was both the chief executive and chairman of the charity and a director of VerdePlanet, the corporate trustee of the charity’s pension scheme.
The TPR investigation revealed that prior to VerdePlanet being appointed as the trustee of the scheme, the corporate trustee took the unusual step of amending the scheme’s definitive deed, which meant the scheme was unable to pursue McLarry for the funds which he went on to take.
Between March 2012 and February 2013 he arranged for £256,127 to be transferred from the charity pension scheme into bank accounts he controlled.
The court heard McLarry tried to cover his tracks by forging documents, lying to TPR investigators about who owned the properties involved and then refusing to hand over vital evidence.
TPR convicted McLarry for failing to hand over bank statements at trial in April 2017, after which the bank statements were given to TPR. They revealed that he had used scheme funds to purchase his house in France.
Judge Andrew Barnett told McLarry: “It is a serious matter and the only outcome is a substantial prison sentence.”
TPR’s executive director of frontline regulation, Nicola Parish, says: “McLarry lied repeatedly to try to muddy the waters around him but our investigators cut through his attempts at deception to uncover the truth.
“This prosecution shows that we will do everything in our power to take action against those criminals who raid pension pots for their own gain.
TPR took the decision not to continue proceedings against Sandra McLarry, 59, of Bere Alston, Devon, who was charged with four counts of money laundering, on the basis that it was not in the public interest.
Sentencing will take place at Salisbury Crown Court on December 13.