PENSION payments to hundreds of former carpet company workers could be suspended after a £40million-plus hole was found in the scheme.
The 452 members of the Hugh Mackay scheme have been warned their benefits could be stopped temporarily.
The fund, which remains after the Durham firm closed down in 2005, has £800,000 in assets but liabilities of £43million.
Last year, the fund was said to have been £1million in the black.
The Pension Regulator and Durham Constabulary are investigating allegations of fraud over the management of the scheme, with the inquiries focusing on developer Rob Hill, a trustee of the scheme.
The probe is looking at the role of Chartpoint, a company registered to his County Durham home which is responsible for the cash.
Mr Hill, along with two others who held posts as original trustees, have denied any wrongdoing.
A firm appointed to manage the scheme on behalf of the regulator has said it is in discussions with Chartpoint about the deficit.
If the firm becomes insolvent, the scheme could benefit from the Pension Protection Fund.