The British Department of Trade and Industry today, in a report on the financial affairs of British businessman Robert Maxwell, said the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority needs to provide better training for U.K. trustees in order to help prevent a repeat of events 10 years ago, when Mr. Maxwell raided his company pension funds for £450 million ($652 million) to finance his publishing empire.
The report, which took eight years to compile, also placed considerable blame on Coopers & Lybrand Deloitte, auditor to the pension funds and to the Robert Maxwell Group Ltd. It said the auditor knew about "the practices in the pension funds, which included borrowing funds from the pension plans to support other businesses in the Robert Maxwell Group and the use of the pension fund assets as collateral for bank borrowings.
Roger White, director of corporate communications for PricewaterhouseCoopers, said the firm accepted the report. "We fell short of the very high standards we set ourselves, and for that we are sorry. But he added that the firm already had been reprimanded and fined by British regulators in 1999 and that a lot had changed in the nine years since Maxwells business dealings came to light.