Berkeley Burke SIPP Administration Limited
Established in April 2008, Berkeley Burke SIPP Administration Limited is part of the Berkeley Burke Group, which was founded in 1973. Since 2014, it has been wresting a decision by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) in relation to a SIPP taken by Wayne Charlton in 2011. The introduction to Berkeley Burke came via an unregulated introducer. Mr Charlton was an unsophisticated investor who, on an execution only basis, wished to invest in Sustainable Agro Energy PLC.
In November 2018, it was reported that Intrinsic had been ordered by The Financial Ombudsman to compensate a customer who had been advised by an appointed representative of the ER Network to first of all, transfer her pension into a SIPP and then subsequently invest in two overseas “ethical plantation schemes,” namely Sustainable Agroenergy Plc (SAE) and Belem Sky Plantation. Sadly, SAE was nothing more than fraud, with investors deliberately being misled. The story of land in Cambodia and insured crops of Jatropha trees was sadly no more than a scam.
The Serious Fraud Office became involved and the ringleaders sentenced to a total of 28 years imprisonment. More than 25 victims were robbed of millions of pounds from their pensions and savings. Some even lost their homes.
The directors of the ER Network, Eddie Chisholm and Rhona Galbraith, formed Vita Investment Planning in 2011. Their introducers used Berkeley Burke SIPP Administration Limited as a vehicle to invest in unregulated investments as this Summary of Pension Details from one unfortunate customer demonstrates. Shockingly, the introducer in this case was a mortgage broker with no investment or pension qualifications.
In 2012, Sustainable AgroEnergy PLC entered receivership, following intervention by the Serious Fraud Office as part of a criminal investigation. Mr Charlton had lost his entire £29,000 pension pot. The 2014 Ombudsman decision viewed that, perhaps not unsurprisingly given the circumstances, that Berkeley Burke had failed to carry out an appropriate level of due diligence.
What followed saw Berkeley Burke initiate a judicial review against the Ombudsman decision. In a controversial and unprecedented move, FOS agreed to revisit its decision. A review that took up until February 2017, supported the original verdict. An unimpressed Berkeley Burke attempted to appeal the ruling via an arbitration appeal process. The High Court was having none of this and it was duly blocked. It was then off to a judicial review and finally at the end of October, we had the definitive answer. Justice Jacobs found FOS had followed Financial Conduct Authority guidelines when making its decisions and in doing so, dismissed the appeal claim stating that Berkeley Burke should have concluded that the investment was not acceptable for Mr Charlton’s pension scheme and thereby failed to treat him fairly or act with due skill, care and diligence when accepting the investment.
If this was bad enough for the beleaguered SIPP provider, there are rumoured to be in excess of 1000 similar cases against it, percolating in the background. With a balance sheet of a mere £765,00 as at June 2018, it may only be a matter of time before the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) are forced into placing yet another SIPP administrator into default.
If you have been recommended by your financial adviser, irrespective of if they were properly authorised to give pension transfer advice or not, to transfer your pension into a SIPP with Berkeley Burke SIPP Administration Limited and you have lost money, Beat the Banks are here to help. To find out more, simply complete our enquiry form or call our expert team on 01382 200474.