Reply by Devere Group

As the most regulated independent financial consultancy in the world, deVere Group strictly adhere to international regulatory laws. By partnering with some of the world’s most respected investment providers, deVere are able to provide clients with trusted financial products helping them to achieve their financial goals and aspirations. Working in financial services can be hard but very rewarding; we provide full training turning our advisers into fully qualified financial planners gaining CISI qualifications.

De Vere Group, the offshore IFA, was among the promoters of the Beazley QROPS that has been struck off HMRC's list of approved schemes.

It has not been confirmed how many de Vere clients were put into the scheme, but it is thought it could be more than 100.

Skandia International, the offshore insurer, has now revealed it has 166 cases on its books in which its portfolio bonds were used as an investment platform within the Beazley QROPS.

Advisers from de Vere, which describes itself as the world's largest financial consultancy - with more than 50,000 clients in over 100 countries – are thought to have been the main provider of the Skandia bonds business in which Beazley was the corporate trustee.

The names of other advisory firms that recommended the Beazley QROPS to clients are not currently known.

International Adviser exclusively revealed this week that Beazley had written to clients informing them HMRC had struck it off the QROPS list, the consequence of which could be investors losing 55% of their pension in tax charges.

Proof of 'good faith'Beazley told clients they should write to HMRC, providing all their details and information about the advice they received on the pension transfer, in order to help the Revenue establish whether they moved their pension in "good faith".

If "good faith" – that clients intended to use Beazley as a genuine pension - can be established, HMRC will take a more lenient approach to leveling unauthorised payment charges.

A spokesman for de Vere said it would be doing all it could to help ensure clients are not charged.

"de Vere Group will continue to keep clients fully updated on any developments and will be in frequent contact with the trustees to do all possible to ensure that this matter is brought to a satisfactory conclusion."

The spokesman added that no advice was provided on the scheme by de Vere's FSA regulated UK operation, noting it was only used by international clients.

If "˜good faith' cannot be proved – the implication of which is that clients were intending to bust their pensions at the end of the five year QROPS statutory reporting period – the full 55% is more likely to be applied.

International Adviser has seen an email sent from Beazley, informing clients and distributors that it was closing to new business from July 2008 as a result of its "overwhelming success".

The email said advisers can continue to make transfers into the Beazley scheme until July 31st 2008.

Pension busting claimsAccording to sources, some advisers were openly selling Beazley as a pensions busting vehicle which they could cash in after five years.

It is unclear why clients of the Beazley scheme only received letters informing them it had been struck off the QROPS list in the past few weeks when it shut down more than two years ago.

It is also unknown who is behind Beazley. The Hong Kong equivalent of Companies House lists the sole shareholder and only corporate director of Beazley as a company called Grampian Managers.

The corporate secretary is given as Sovereign Secretaries Hong Kong, which is part of a trust company called Sovereign, which has offices in Gibraltar and Hong Kong.

When International Adviser put questions to Sovereign, a statement was received from law firm DLA Piper.

It said: "The Beazley Consulting Pension Scheme was set up in 2007. At the time Hong Kong lawyers advised that the scheme met HMRC's criteria to qualify as a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme ("QROPS") in the UK.

"Appropriate legal advice was taken in Hong Kong before Beazley Consulting submitted its application to HMRC and HMRC accepted that the scheme met its relevant criteria.

"Some 18 months later, after taking its own advice, HMRC decided that the regulations to which the scheme was subject did not meet its criteria and that the scheme no longer qualified as a QROPS.

"This decision also affected other similar schemes. Since then Beazley Consulting has been working closely with HMRC to resolve the issue and has advised members of the best way forward."

At the time of clients receiving the Beazley letter, the scheme was still listed on HMRC's list of approved QROPS. However, it is understood the list will be updated tomorrow (Sept 9th) and Beazley removed.

Product or Service Mentioned: Devere Group Consulting Service.

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