Pension pot at stake?

Pension pot at stake?

Independent Insurance's creditors could attack Michael Bright's multi-million pound personal pension pot, if they can prove that he allowed Independent to continue trading when he knew the company was in financial difficulties.

Leading pensions lawyer Robin Ellison of Eversheds said changes to the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999 meant bankrupts' pensions were no longer protected from creditors.

Although there is no suggestion Bright is bankrupt, Ellison said if it could be proved that he allowed Independent to continue trading when he knew or ought to have known it was insolvent, creditors could recover their losses from his pension.

Independent's 2000 accounts showed that Bright's total annual pay was £650,000, plus payments of £597,000 into his pension in that year alone.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is expected to interview Ireco managing director Walter Copping as part of its investigations into the failure of Independent Insurance.

It has been reported that Copping negotiated a series of reinsurance contracts with former Independent chief executive Michael Bright.

Ireco is the European reinsurance arm of GE Capital.

The SFO would not comment on Copping's involvement in the investigation.

A GE Capital spokeswoman said no one at the company was available to comment on the issue.

However, GE has been reported as saying that there was no suggestion within GE that Copping had done anything wrong and no disciplinary action had been taken against him.

Axa buys
Axa has acquired Independent's small commercial risks site, for an undisclosed sum.

The site offers cover for risks such as hotels, shops and small manufacturing companies.

The 17-strong team responsible for the site's development will be kept on. They will stay at their Edenbridge office until they are relocated to Axa offices.