Pensions

FRC broadens probe into Coats Group schemes’ conduct

The probe kicked off last year

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has extended the scope of its investigation into the conduct of individuals who oversaw the three Coats Group defined benefit (DB) schemes.

The investigation was launched last year when the FRC said it was reviewing the conduct of a number of actuaries or accountants overseeing Coats’ schemes between 2004 and 2012.

Now, the watchdog for the accountancy and actuarial professions has said it has brought another individual into the probe, with the period under review lengthened by two years to 2002.

The investigation is being held under the FRC’s actuarial scheme, which says members may be liable to a probe if there are “important issues affecting the public interest”, “reasonable grounds to suspect that there may have been misconduct” or they have failed to comply with their obligations under the scheme.

The probe is the second stage of the actuarial scheme’s disciplinary process, with the investigation possibly leading to enforcement proceedings, a tribunal hearing, and then a sanction or costs orders.

The schemes involved are the Coats Pension Plan, the Brunel Holdings Pension Scheme, and the Staveley Industries Retirement Benefit Scheme.

A spokesperson for Coats said: “We understand the investigation relates solely to a person or persons governed by the FRC’s disciplinary scheme, none of whom are currently employed by Coats Group. We have no further information on the investigation at this time and are not in a position to comment further.”

The probe was prompted by a referral from the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFOA) after it became concerned by matters arising from The Pensions Regulator’s (TPR) separate investigation, which recently concluded.

The investigation by TPR resulted in the company agreeing a total of £329m of contributions to the three schemes, as well as the statutory employer changing to Coats Limited, which also agreed a full buyout guarantee for liabilities.

The FRC said it could not comment further while the investigation was ongoing.

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