Estmerish missing pensions scandal

Public sector workers striking against pension reform in Sheaford in 2013. Pensions have been a political issue in Estmere amid the government's austerity programme.

The Estmerish missing pensions scandal is an unfolding political scandal in Estmere involving money missing from the country's state pension fund that started in February 2021, which was revealed following the release of new pension advice from the Department of the Treasury.

Andrew Anquetil, Secretary of State for the Treasury, advised families on behalf of the Estmerish government to take out private pensions on 6 February. Anquetil maintained that this was part of a "branching out" to bring security to families and take the strain off the public fund[1]. The announcement prompted speculation that the government would further cut pensions in line with their overaching policy of fiscal responsibility, however there was some confusion as to the timing of the announcement, which left staffers poorly briefed minutes prior, and the policy itself, which was not part of the SDU's mannifesto.

The confusion prompted Economic Review, a broadsheet newspaper that focused on financial, economic and business affairs, to investigate the state of Estmere's public pensions. Penny Dorchester, the paper's financial correspondent, found a number of irregularities with the government advice. The team was approached by an anynomous whistleblower from the Treasury, who revealed that the policy was at odds with previous government direction on pensions, and gave the team access to government records. The records showed that there was glaring discrepencies between annual pension contributions and the overall ring-fenced funds. The Review attested that a quarter of the pension fund was missing[2]. The Review asked the Prime Minister Reginald Wilton-Smyth "where is the money?"[3].

The crisis was picked up on by the opposition Social Democratic and Co-operative Party, with Leader of the Opposition Zoe Halivar joining the campaign and asking Wilton-Smyth "where is the money?" herself, first on Tweeter[4] and later in Prime Minister's Questions, calling for a public investigation. The government has issued no response to the claims of missing money made by the Review, but Wilton-Smyth quipped in PMQs that the paper had "engaged in baseless yellow journalism". On 11 February, Halivar issued a full statement on the scandal, again asking where the money was, and insisting that "public trust [was] diminishing". Halivar again called for full transparency and for a public investigation[5].

Another whistleblower revealed to The Chartist that the pensions had been "gambled", and Chartist published the information on 24 February; among other things, it was revealed that the Prime Minister had "gambled" the pensions money in a stock market investment, against the advice of the Treasury, which subsequently backfired. At least €3.5 billion had been invested with the now-defaulted Frobisher-Green Management. This meant that the money was not missing, but "gone"[6]. Secretary of State for Defence John Talbot responded to the claims on Tweeter, claiming that Chartist was "spreading lies"[7], but this tweet was subsequently deleted, and Talbot claimed that it was sent "without authorisation"[8].

References

  1. ""Take out personal pensions" advises government". The Standard. 6 February 2021. Retrieved 11 February 2021.
  2. "Private pensions, public problems; the numbers just don't add up". Economic Review. 8 February 2021. Retrieved 11 February 2021.
  3. "@Economic_Review". Tweeter. 8 February 2021. Retrieved 11 February 2021.
  4. "@halivarzoe". Tweeter. 8 February 2021. Retrieved 11 February 2021.
  5. "@halivarzoe". Tweeter. 11 February 2021. Retrieved 11 February 2021.
  6. "Whistleblower speaks up; "they gambled it all"". The Chartist. 24 February 2021. Retrieved 24 February 2021.
  7. "@jtalbotofficial". Tweeter. 24 February 2021. Retrieved 24 February 2021.
  8. "@jtalbotofficial". Tweeter. 24 February 2021. Retrieved 24 February 2021.