The former head of a UK charity for the disabled has been jailed for five years, and banned from being a director for eight years, for stealing more than £250,000 ($325,000) from the charity’s pension, according to The Pension Regulator (TPR).
Patrick McLarry, 71, took funds from Yateley Industries for the Disabled’s pension plan and used the money to buy homes in France and England for himself and his wife, as well as to pay off a personal debt, according to TPR. McLarry admitted one charge of fraud at a previous court hearing, but then attempted to change his plea to not guilty.
Winchester Crown Judge Andrew Barnett, who presided over the case, scolded McLarry, telling him he had “milked the pension fund of considerable funds, spent entirely for your own needs and your wife.”
TPR said that when McLarry committed the fraud, he was both chief executive and chairman of the charity, as well as a director of VerdePlanet Limited, the corporate trustee of the charity’s pension plan.
“McLarry tried every trick in the book to hide his actions and squander the pension pots of those he was responsible for, but we were able to uncover the truth and bring him to justice,” Nicola Parish, TPR’s executive director of frontline regulation, said in a statement. “We will now work to seize assets from McLarry so that as much of the money as possible is returned to its rightful owners.”
TPR said that between March 2012 and February 2013, McLarry arranged for £256,127 to be transferred from the charity pension into bank accounts he controlled. The regulator said he used that money to buy a home and a small warehouse in the south of France, a house in Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, and to repay a debt he owed for the purchase of a pub lease in Portsmouth.
TPR’s investigation found that before VerdePlanet had been appointed as the trustee of the plan, the corporate trustee took the unusual step of amending the plan’s definitive deed so the plan would be unable to pursue McLarry for the funds he stole. It also said he tried to cover his tracks by forging documents, lying to TPR investigators about who owned the properties involved, and refusing to hand over vital evidence.
TPR prosecuted McLarry for not turning over bank statements at a trial in 2017, after which the bank statements were given to TPR. The regulator said those documents revealed that he had used the pension’s funds to purchase his house in France. TPR said the fine for the offense was paid at least in part by Yateley, not McLarry, which it said demonstrates the amount of control he exercised over the charity.