The former head of a UK charity supporting the disabled has pleaded guilty to defrauding the charity’s pension plan out of more than £250,000 ($322,000).
Patrick McLarry, 71, admitted to taking the funds from the Yateley Industries for the Disabled pension plan to buy homes in France and Hampshire, England for himself and his wife, and to pay off a personal debt. At the time of the fraud, McLarry was the chief executive and chairman of the charity, and a director of VerdePlanet Limited, the corporate trustee of the charity’s pension plan.
The Pensions Regulator (TPR), which brought the prosecution, said it will seek a confiscation order to force McLarry to return the money he took from the pension.
“McLarry posed as a pillar of the community while he was secretly working to steal for himself the pension savings of dozens of disabled workers,” Nicola Parish, TPR’s executive director of frontline regulation, said in a statement. “He lied repeatedly to try to muddy the waters around him but our investigators cut through his attempts at deception to uncover the truth.”
TPR said its investigation uncovered that before VerdePlanet was appointed the trustee of the plan, the corporate trustee took the unusual step of amending the pension plan’s definitive deed. That meant the trustee was unable to pursue McLarry for the funds which he eventually took.
Between March 2012 and February 2013, McLarry arranged for more than £256,127 to be transferred into bank accounts he controlled from the charity pension. He used the money to buy a home and a small warehouse in the south of France, a house in Hampshire, England, and to repay a debt.
The regulator said McLarry tried to hide his actions by forging documents, lying to TPR investigators about who owned the properties involved, and then refusing to hand over important evidence.
TPR convicted McLarry for failing to hand over bank statements at trial in April 2017. The statements revealed that he had used the plan’s funds to purchase a house in France.
“It is a serious matter and the only outcome is a substantial prison sentence,” Salisbury Crown Court Judge Andrew Barnett said as McLarry pleaded guilty.
McLarry will be sentenced December 13. Fraud carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment in the UK. McLarry’s wife, Sandra, was charged with four counts of money laundering but the TPR decided not to proceed against her, saying that it was not in the public interest.