Pensions - Articles - Company chief executive banned from being a trustee

The chief executive of a company that packages some of Britain’s most famous brands has been convicted of refusing to give information to The Pensions Regulator (TPR).

 Thomas Christopher Wrigley, who was both the CEO and major shareholder of Discovery Flexibles Limited as well as being the chair of trustees for the company’s pension scheme, repeatedly refused to comply with TPR’s requests for information in connection with an investigation into how the scheme was being run.

 TPR had been tipped off by a whistleblower that Wrigley, in his role as chair of trustees, was considering investing more than £1.2 million of pension scheme funds in Discovery Flexibles.

 There are restrictions on the proportion of an occupational pension scheme’s funds that trustees may invest in its sponsoring employer and the form this may take, so TPR launched an investigation into whether these restrictions had been or were likely to be breached.

 When pushed for a response to its questions by TPR, Wrigley threatened the TPR case manager involved, saying: “If you cross me again I will come after you, personally, with my legal team.”

 TPR referred Wrigley’s refusal to provide information to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), which is responsible for prosecutions in Scotland, where the offence occurred. After the COPFS launched a prosecution against him, Wrigley pleaded guilty at Dundee Sheriff Court to a charge of failing or refusing to provide information to TPR without good excuse. He was fined £400.

 Ongoing concerns about governance of the pension scheme has led to TPR’s Determinations Panel also prohibiting Wrigley from acting as a pension scheme trustee. TPR has appointed an independent trustee to act in Wrigley’s place on the company pension scheme.

 TPR was concerned about Wrigley’s integrity, his inappropriate behaviour and his failure to manage the conflict of interest of him being both chairman of the pension scheme trustees and CEO of the sponsoring employer.

 Wrigley’s behaviour was taken into consideration by the Determinations Panel, which found: “There was, over a relatively short period, an evolution of Mr Wrigley’s conduct, from the initiation of a proposal which, as a trustee, he should never have made or pursued, to an obdurate and aggressive attitude of non-cooperation with the regulator, all of which demonstrated that he was not a fit and proper person to be a trustee.”

 Nicola Parish, TPR’s Executive Director of Frontline Regulation, said: “Wrigley earned himself a criminal record by refusing to give us the information he was legally required to.

 “His behaviour towards TPR staff doing their job was intolerable so I welcome the fact that the Determination Panel took this into consideration when it decided to prohibit him.

 “Complying with our powers is not optional - if we ask you for information under section 72 you must provide it.

 “If you fail to give us information we’ve asked for, you should be prepared to be prosecuted - and convicted.”

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