Former charity chief gets five years for stealing £250k from pension fund

Patrick McLarry, 71, of Devon transferred more than £256,000 from the pension scheme of Yateley Industries, a charity for disabled people, when he was chief executive

Patrick McLarry (Photograph: Ben Mitchell/PA Wire/PA Images)
Patrick McLarry (Photograph: Ben Mitchell/PA Wire/PA Images)

The former chief executive of a Hampshire-based charity for disabled people has been sentenced to five years in prison for defrauding its pension scheme of more than £250,000.

Patrick McLarry, 71, of Bere Alston, Devon, was sentenced at Winchester Crown Court yesterday for transferring £256,127 from the pension scheme of Yateley Industries to his personal account between March 2012 and February 2013.

At the time of the fraud, McLarry was both chief executive and chair of the charity, as well as a director of VerdePlanet Ltd, the corporate trustee of the pension scheme.

An investigation by the Pensions Regulator found that the scheme’s definitive deed had been amended before VerdePlanet was appointed to prevent the scheme pursuing McLarry for the funds he later took.

McLarry used the money taken from the scheme to buy properties in France and Hampshire and pay off personal debts run up by the purchase of a pub lease in Portsmouth.

The regulator said McLarry then tried to hide evidence of his crime by forging documents, lying to investigators about who owned the properties and refusing to hand evidence to the regulator.

He was convicted in 2017 of refusing to produce documents to the regulator and fined £2,500, plus £4,000 costs, but the regulator said the fine was paid in part by Yateley Industries, rather than McLarry.

In court, McLarry originally admitted one count of fraud at a previous court hearing, but later tried to change his plea to not guilty, according to the regulator.

As well as his prison sentence, McLarry has been banned as a director for eight years.

Nicola Parish, executive director of front-line regulation at the Pensions Regulator, said: “McLarry tried every trick in the book to hide his actions and squander the pension pots of those he was responsible for, but we were able to uncover the truth and bring him to justice.

“We will now work to seize assets from McLarry so that as much of the money as possible is returned to its rightful owners, who will rightly rely on it to deliver their pensions in retirement.”

The charity declined to comment on the court’s verdict.

The Pensions Regulator decided last year not to continue proceedings against McLarry’s wife Sandra, 59, on four counts of money laundering after determining it was not in the public interest to do so.

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