Ex-football club boss in probe over alleged pensions scam:
AFORMER Bangor City FC president is facing an organised crime probe over an alleged pensions’ scheme scam.
Gordon Craig, who is still listed as a director at the club, is being investigated by the North West regional organised crime unit Titan over his role as a trustee of Optimum Retirements Benefits Plan and other pension schemes. Mr Craig became a director in July 2016.
The club said he was “no longer at the football club in any capacity”, despite being still listed with Companies House as holding the position.
The Pension Regulator (TPR) said Craig paid himself nearly £500,000 in a year and handed over tens of thousands in commissions to financial advisers recommending his scheme.
The regulator said Optimum, which was wound up in February, was a “pension liberation scheme” which offered 288 retirement savers loans of up to 75% of their pension funds.
Funds which were not paid out were invested in high-risk projects, such as mining gem stones and processing olive oil.
Two advisers involved with Optimum were jailed for money laundering offences, while a third received a suspended sentence from the courts.
The TPR determinations panel said: “The permission of activity that appears to be pensions liberation strongly suggests that Craig, if he has the knowledge and skill of a pensions trustee, is not exercising it properly.”
The panel heard investors were urged to switch their pensions to Optimum by cold-calling salesmen paid high commissions by Craig’s firm.
Companies House lists Bangor City FC’s directors as being Craig, William Henry Adamson and James Robert Lees, all registered at the addresses of Optimum Financial Solutions, Skelmersdale. The firm was wound up in February.
This is the latest controversy to hit the club. Earlier this month a number of Wrexham supporters boycotted their friendly match at Bangor because of City’s connection with Stephen Vaughan and his son Stephen Vaughan Jr.
Former Chester City owner Stephen Vaughan was the first owner of a professional football club to fail the FA’s “fit and proper person” test and remains banned from holding a company directorship until 2020. When a Cheshire-based consortium, including new president Gordon Craig, took over Bangor City FC in 2016, they said he would have no involvement in running the club.
But Mr Vaughan appeared alongside the new owners at a press conference, describing himself as a “shirt sponsor”. VSM (Vaughan Sports Management) has since been on the club’s shirts.
Stephen Vaughan Jr is Bangor’s director of football, and VSM’s two directors are Emily Jane and Tess Vaughan.
Bangor City general manager Luke Purcell said the club “only has two directors – Adamson and Lees”.
Mr Purcell said: “I have never spoken to Gordon Craig myself since February when I came. I haven’t had any dealings with him. I don’t know who he is.”
At a boardroom reshuffle in January, Craig resigned as chairman, but remains listed as a director.
Stephen Vaughan Jr said: “Gordon is no longer at the football club in any capacity.” He said if he was still registered as a director with Companies House, it was an “oversight” and he would inform the current directors.