Keith Popplewell, a previously a well-known figure in the IFA community, persuaded clients to buy a long lease on a storage unit or pod – containers that are used to store belongings – and rent it out in the hope of making a good return which seldom worked out.
He has been banned due the “misuse of his position” at advice firm the Pensions Office, a statement by the Insolvency Service revealed.
“Since at least 16 July 2012 Keith Popplewell misused his position as an approved person with the regulatory authority by failing to ensure that the Pensions Office properly advise its clients on the transfer of low-risk personal and occupation pension products into self-invested personal pension schemes (Sipps) and failing to advise clients on the high-risk unregulated underlying investment, much of which was into Storepod investments,” said the watchdog.
“At least 327 clients of the Pensions Office have invested a total of at least £12 million into Storepods, which are unregulated, high risk investments,” added the statement.
As a result, 265 clients have applied to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) for compensation. The life boat fund has so far found 61 eligible, paying out a total of £1.5m.
Around 169 claims are still under consideration.
The insolvency service also revealed that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) removed the Pensions Office’s permissions to “carry out regulated activities in regards to the provision of pensions advice with effect from 29 May 2013”.
Pension liberation scams
Last year, the Insolvency Service also five so-called pension liberation companies after they scammed pensioners out of £128m ($166m, €148m), with the bulk of it involving defined benefit transfers into Storage pods via Sipps.