An ‘arrogant’ accountant who plundered more than £295,000 from a pension scheme to buy a house for his daughter and prop up family businesses has been jailed for 40 months.
Roger Bessent, 66, showed a ‘brazen disregard’ for investors’ hard-earned cash by transferring £121,000 of it to pay towards his daughter’s home.
He also diverted £104,000 to her nursery, Little Rascals, ‘essentially to keep the business afloat’, and paid £35,600 into a sports injury clinic run by his son-in-law.
Bessent held a financial interest in each of the firms he diverted money to (Picture: Getty Images/Science Photo Libra)Bessent moved £27,500 to Achieve Financial Freedom, a business he was planning to set up to establish himself as an independent financial adviser.
Another £7,000 was used to pay off a tax bill at his accountancy practice Glesson Bessent.
A court heard the money stolen from the Focusplay Retirement Benefit Scheme – of which Bessent was the trustee – all went to enterprises in which he stood to make a gain.
By February 2017, the scheme had 305 members – all individual investors – with a fund value of £17.4 million, prosecutor Will Hays said.
Bessent, of South Promenade, Lancashire, previously admitted a string of fraud charges committed between October 2014 and December 2016, as well as acting as a company director while disqualified.
The Pensions Regulator said Bessent’s was the first of their prosecutions to lead to an immediate spell behind bars (Picture: Jon Super)Judge Nicholas Barker told him: ‘You acted with brazen disregard for the proper regulations, prohibitions and responsibilities which were designed to protect the interests of unsophisticated investors.
Man fed-up with police cuts smokes joint outside base to make a point‘You have demonstrated astonishing arrogance in your disregard for the financial welfare of the members of the scheme.
‘You helped yourself to other people’s hard-earned monies and used it as your own.’
Dan Thomas, defending, said Bessent ‘bitterly regrets’ the con and has repaid £78,000 so far, of which £35,000 was paid back before the investigation began.
The Pensions Regulator, who launched the probe alongside the Insolvency Service, said it was the first time one of its prosecutions had led to an immediate custodial term.