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£112m pension swindle

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1stop

THE FINANCIAL CONDUCT AUTHORITY has banned two Pembrokeshire businessmen from working in the financial industry after they orchestrated unsuitable self-invested personal pension (SIPP) switches to thousands of people in the county and beyond.

Andrew Rees and Timothy Hughes, who previously ran 1 Stop Financial Services in Haverfordwest pushed 2,000 clients into SIPPs which were not suitable for their needs.
The firm, has now ceased trading, but the pair have now opened a music shop on High Street called Musicians World in the same building where 1 StopFinancial took place.

The pair have been banned from performing any significant function in any regulated activity authorised by the FCA.

The FCA told the Herald that between October 2010 and November 2012, Rees and Hughes’ firm advised nearly 2,000 customers on switching their existing pensions (valued at in excess of £112m) into SIPPs. Their customers then used the SIPPs to invest in products such as diamonds and overseas property which were typically not permitted by the customers’ existing schemes.

The pair have been fined £490,100 but have instead agreed to pay that amount to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which is investigating redress claims by 1 Stop clients.

FCA director of enforcement and financial crime Tracey McDermott said: “By enabling customers to invest in unregulated and often high risk products without assessing suitability, these men exposed customers to the risk of losing their hard earned pension funds.

“This was then compounded by the partners’ failure to ensure that their customers fully understood these risks”.

Rees and Hughes failed to comply with the statement of principle for approved persons which states that a SIF must take reasonable steps to ensure that the business for which he is responsible in his accountable function complies with regulatory requirements, the regulator said.

The pair also failed to disclose a conflict of interest, as they were directors and shareholders of EGI, a firm that referred almost a quarter of 1 Stop’s SIPP customers during the relevant period.

EGI was paid a fee for referrals, meaning that Rees and Hughes were benefiting from both the fees paid by customers for the advice given by 1 Stop and also from the commission received by EGI.

Hughes also failed in his compliance duties.

Rees and Hughes, will be, according to the FCA, writing to all customers informing them of the situation.

Timothy Adrian Hughes spoke to the Herald by telephone yesterday. He said: “We are unable to comment on this matter as we are not legally permitted to do so. Any comments we make to the press need to be first cleared by the FCA in writing.”

The Pembrokeshire Herald understands that 1 Stop Financial services employed a compliance officer. Questions are now being raised if the compliance officer should have done more to prevent the risk to the 2000 customers, or if the buck stops at the owners of the firm.
The Pembrokeshire Herald has been contacted by a number of 1 Stop’s clients. One gentleman told us,  that he felt he had been swindled into investing his pension into more risky ventures than he was comfortable with.
The Pembrokeshire Herald continues to investigate.
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Community

The Harbourmaster: Special rail excursion draws crowds to Milford Haven

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MILFORD HAVEN witnessed an extraordinary event yesterday as a special charter train, operated by UK Railtours, made a unique visit to the town, drawing in 500 railway enthusiasts. Departing from London Paddington, the 13-carriage train, which included both first class and standard accommodations, travelled off the usual passenger routes to provide a scenic journey along the south Wales coast.

Starting the day with pick-ups from various locations including Slough, Reading, Swindon, and Bristol Parkway, the train ventured through the Severn Tunnel into Wales, showcasing a series of rarely used freight tracks. Notably, the locomotive switched at Newport to a pair of GBRf Class 66 freight engines, enhancing the experience for those on board by traversing tracks seldom seen by passenger services.

The journey took passengers through Cardiff, Bridgend, and Port Talbot Parkway, deviating at Court Sart Junction to follow the diversionary Swansea District line. The train paused at various locations including Llanelli and Haverfordwest, where passengers enjoyed a 90-minute break while the train was serviced.

A major highlight of the trip was the exploration of the seldom-visited Robeston branch, a treat for the rail enthusiasts who filled the train to capacity, necessitating a waiting list for hopeful travellers. The venture concluded at Milford Haven, where passengers disembarked for a photo session before the train commenced its return journey to London, including a final scenic pass via the Swansea Avoiding line and the Bishton flyover.

Local Councillor Nicola Harteveld of Milford Haven Town Council expressed delight at the influx of visitors, noting, “What an incredible sight at Milford Waterfront today with passengers enjoying our local scenery. It’s a testament to the unique charm and appeal of special rail tours.”

First class passengers were treated to The Great British Breakfast and a four-course dinner, while a buffet car served those in standard class, ensuring all passengers enjoyed their journey with comfort and style.

This tour, fully booked in all classes, underscores the continuing enthusiasm for unique rail experiences in the UK, combining a love for heritage rail with the exploration of less-travelled tracks. As the train made its way back to London Paddington, the participants reflected on a day filled with adventure and picturesque landscapes, leaving them with memories of a rare rail journey along the historic and scenic routes of Wales.

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Crime

Police appeal after girl, 15, assaulted at Lydstep Point to Point

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DYFED-POWYS-POLICE says it is investigating an assault which occurred at Lydstep Point to Point event near to the announcers stand, between 4.30-4.45pm on Monday, April 1, 2024.

The victim, a 15-year-old girl, was allegedly assaulted by two other females, one believed to be in her late teens and the other in her late thirties. The young victim sustained facial injuries.

Police are now appealing for anyone who attended the event that may have information that could help them with their investigation to contact PC 772 Boyt either through a direct message on social media, online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing [email protected] or by calling 101.

Quote reference: 24*310890

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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News

Major search in the area of The Cleddau Bridge and Hobbs Point

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A MULTI-AGENCY rescue response was initiated first thing on Saturday following reports of a person in difficulty in the area surrounding The Cleddau Bridge, The Herald has been told.

Police were joined by two coastguard rescue teams, the RNLI and a coastguard rescue helicopter during the search.

A police launch was also used in the operation.

Details are still unclear, but we understand that the search has now been stood down.

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