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Convicted accountant ordered to pay back stolen £274k

A convicted accountant who defrauded a pension scheme of £292K has been ordered to repay the money, or else he will face an extension to his prison sentence. 

Roger William Bessent, of Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, stole cash from the Focusplay Retirement Benefit Scheme (FRBS) and transferred it into businesses he part-owned and which were run by his family and a client.

Bessent, who had acted as a trustee and administrator for FRBS, was sentenced in March 2019 to more than three years in jail, following a prosecution by The Pensions Regulator.

At a confiscation hearing last week at Preston Crown Court, a Judge ordered Bessent to pay a total of £274K, of this amount, £233K will be returned directly to the FRBS as part of a compensation order, which accounted for the difference between the sum stolen and the amount he has previously repaid.

Bessent will have to repay the amount in full within three months, if he fails to do so, he will serve an additional 30-month term, and would still be liable to pay back the money, with interest. 

He was also ordered to hand over all the cash currently in his bank accounts, £9861, within seven days.

Erica Carroll, TPR’s director of enforcement, said: “Bessent held a position of trust which he abused for his own gain, stealing money meant for hardworking scheme members’ retirements.

“Today’s result shows TPR is determined that criminals such as Bessent are not only punished for their crimes but also do not benefit financially from their crimes. The money he stole will now be returned for the benefit of the scheme members he took it from. And, if he doesn’t pay up in three months, he faces extra jail time and will still have to return the money.”

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