Friday, 4 December 2009

QROPS ADVICE: HMRC faces fresh QROPS legal challenge

London & Colonial Assurance, an insurance, pension and investment company, may mount a legal challenge against HMRC over its apparent opposition to QROPS schemes based in its domicile, Gibraltar.

The firm, which also has offices in the UK, has sought legal opinion from two separate QCs. Both assert HMRC is wrong in its contention that Gibraltar’s 0% rate of income tax for over 60s’ is incompatible with QROPS rules. Its barristers have also questioned whether the UK’s position will withstand scrutiny from the European Union, of which Gibraltar is a member.

London & Colonial (L&C) currently has no QROPS scheme of its own but may launch one and is keen to ensure it home jurisdiction’s rules are deemed compatible with UK legislation.

For the past six months, Gibraltar pensions providers have been operating under a voluntary ban on new QROPS business until the quarrel with HMRC is resolved. It arose earlier this year after pension providers in Gibraltar received letters from HMRC asking for clarification of its pension rules.

Ken Wrench, L&C chief executive, said it was irrelevant what tax Gibraltar pensioners paid, or did not pay, to UK coffers, even if a UK resident was paying into a Gibraltar scheme.

“Why is HMRC being difficult and delaying its agreement to QROPS in Gibraltar? If it is simply the interpretation of the letter of the regulations, then it is about time HMRC either agree that a favourable interpretation is acceptable or change the regulations. Gibraltar is an ideal jurisdiction for QROPS – it is within the EU, well regulated, the currency is sterling, the language English and the common law legal system is similar to the UK,” said Wrench.

HMRC global scrutiny
Gibraltar is not the first territory to face HMRC investigation into its pension rules. Last year all Singapore schemes were deemed incompatible with QROPS rules and HMRC no longer permits providers to domicile QROPS there.

Providers in Gibraltar are expecting a response from HMRC next week over the status of their schemes. If HMRC rules they are not compatible, L&C said it would seek to challenge the position in the courts.

It would not be the first company to resort to legal action. Panthera, a provider that operated a scheme out of Singapore, is currently preparing a similar challenge.
by Dan Judge

Thursday, 3 December 2009

QROPS ADVICE: Malta gains QROPS approval by Dan Judge

Malta has become the latest country to gain QROPS recognition from the HMRC following months of negotiations.
The development means Malta-domiciled pensions schemes that are approved by the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) are eligible for QROPS status.
HRMC said it would assess schemes for suitability on a case-by-case basis.
The MFSA said it was processing a number of applications for retirement schemes under its Special Funds Act. Once authorised under the act, the schemes will be able to seek QROPS status from HMRC.
A number of these schemes are expected to then apply for QROPS status.
A spokesman for the MFSA said: “This is a significant development for Malta indicating. The strong reputation of the Maltese financial services industry coupled with the fact that Malta is an English speaking country, had already generated a lot of interest in this area.”
He added pension schemes established in Malta were included in the Mediterranean state’s network of more than 50 double taxation agreements and were also recognised in all countries in the European Economic Area (EEA).
News of Malta’s approval comes as Gibraltar, the British overseas territory on the tip of Spain, awaits a decision from HMRC over whether it will be able to continue as a QROPS domicile.
The jurisdiction voluntarily stopped processing QROPS business around six months ago after HMRC raised concerns over its tax treatment of pension benefits for over 60s – a zero per cent tax is applied.
HMRC is expected to make an announcement as soon as this week over its fate.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


Argent International is a highly respected financial services group of companies, specializes in comprehensive and independent financial advisory, wealth management, company and trust administration services to private, corporate and institutional investors.
For over 22 years we have assisted investors to enhance their financial position and make the most of the opportunities available in the global financial market.


1.Complete the Letter of Authority form giving Argent International authorisation to request the transfer value and transfer forms (3 in total) on your behalf. (see Argent Links below)
2.Once the current transfer value is confirmed by the UK pension provider you then complete a Form of Engagement with Argent International once the fees have been agreed.
3.All of the forms will be completed and sent to your U.K. pension provider.
4.The UK pension provider then transfers the fund to QROPS. Complete sign and return the Letter of Authority by fax on +44(0)1664 444625 or email to the Alternatively ring our Pensions Advisers on +44 (0)1664 444625.


Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) permit UK pension rights to be transferred to a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS). The QROPS must be in effect as if it were a UK scheme for those members who have been resident in the UK at any time in the previous five tax years. The QROPS is structured very much like a UK pension; i.e. an investment vehicle which is owned on your behalf by a pension provider/administrator (the trustees). The trustees must be based outside the UK and approved by HMRC as a QROPS administrator.

Full information on the QROPS scheme and more importantly the most suited jurisdiction for the QROPS to be held will be provided to you when you speak to one of our QROPS advisers, without cost or obligation.


There is NO requirement to purchase an insurance annuity.
Leave all unused pension funds to your beneficiaries free of UK taxes.
There are no limits on contributions to the fund, nor fund size.
Flexibility as to when benefits can be taken from the Plan (personal tax status allowing).
Take income and benefits in currency of your choice.
Greater Tax efficiency on drawdown.
Tax advantages and savings.
The ability to take in transfers from UK approved pension schemes
Open to all nationalities.
Investment flexibility, with investments in stocks, bonds, alternative investments, deposits, real estate, private equity, options and life policies.
Transparent fee structure with no hidden penalties or exit fees.

QROPS ADVICE: Why Should I Be Interested in QROPS?

With an ever increasing ageing population, there are not enough young people paying into the state scheme to take care of pensioners. The likely result is a crack down on pensions schemes in the future and an increase in taxes (as we have witnessed already). Luckily for UK citizens, they can transfer their UK private pensions offshore to mitigate tax. The Qualifying Recognized Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) allows most types of UK private pensions to be transferred offshore. QROPS was designed with the intention of giving UK expats who aren't returning to the UK the option of moving their pension to a 'white list' country offshore such as Guernsey or the Isle of Man. Not only do you mitigate tax, but you don't need to purchase an annuity. This means that your whole pension fund is left to your spouse upon death and then onto your kids should your spouse pass away.