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Equity Trust loses High Court battle with HMRC

Equity Trust, the trustee of the Panthera ROSSIP scheme, has lost its high-profile battle with HMRC.

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Ruling, Lord Judge Hodge said Equity Trust had failed to prove that the ROSIIP pension was open to Singaporean residents and that, contrary to the trustee’s assertion, there is in fact a regulatory body in Singapore with which the scheme could and should have registered.

Equity Trust asked for and was granted permission to appeal the ruling.

The trustee had been seeking to have the scheme’s QROPS status, which was removed by HMRC in 2008 reinstated .

The ruling has major implications for QROPS providers, and is a blow for Panthera and its managing director, Bethell Codrington, who was convinced that his company had right on its side.

Codrington, who attended today’s court session, was not immediately available for comment.

First round went to Equity Trust

The case ended up in the High Court after Equity Trust last year won the first round against HMRC,  after after submitting a claim to the High Court to gain a declaration of ROSIIP’s legal status. HMRC applied to have the trustee’s case struck out but lost.

Equity Trust at that point was awarded damages and it was agreed that the case should go to trial.

Last month a High Court judge said the three-year long legal battle had gone on long enough, and gave HMRC four weeks to submit final information and 14 days for Equity Trust to respond, with a view to holding the case as soon after May 17 as possible.

Panthera, the promoter of ROSIIP, was established in 2000 as a joint venture between Equity Trust and Clariden Leu, a Credit Suisse subsidiary, and in 2006 looked to take advantage of then-new UK legislation that paved the way for the creation of QROPS.

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