Pensions watchdog Opra shows teeth with its appointment of lawyer and senior policeman

The embryonic post-Maxwell pensions watchdog is showing it intends to have teeth, with appointments thus far including a City lawyer and a policeman.

The appointments to Opra (Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority) were welcomed by pensions partner at Lovell White Durrant, Harriet Dawes, deputy chair of the current Occupational Pensions Board which Opra will replace.

Richards Butler pensions lawyer Jennie Kreser will be legal advisor to the board and will be charged with recruiting a panel of pensions solicitors from City and provincial firms to investigate complex cases.

Kreser began her career 10 years ago as a crown prosecutor and later worked for an actuarial consultancy before joining Richards Butler.

Roger Hills, a former Detective Chief Superintendent who has experience of money-laundering and counterfeiting issues, will be charged with investigating big cases and liaising with the police and other bodies.

Joe Robertson, a former member of the voluntary Occupational Pensions Advisory Service and a casework director for the pensions ombudsman will also be appointed a director.

Opra, which opens its offices in Brighton in April, will have wide-ranging powers to impose fines on trustees of occupational pension schemes. It is being set up under the 1995 Pensions Act.