Third accountant to be prosecuted by The Pensions Regulator for lying

21 February 2020

The compliance and enforcement bulletin, which covers the period October to December 2019, provides information about the powers that TPR have used and is designed to help employers, their advisers, trustees and administrators understand the type of compliance and enforcement interventions that the Regulator will undertake. It focuses on key areas relating to compliance, automatic enrolment, enforcement and review of statutory notices for frontline regulation.

In a bid to ensure that savers are in well-governed schemes with ‘fully competent and informed’ trustees and the TPR message to pension trustees serves as a reminder that TPR will not hesitate to use their powers if trustees fail to respond to standard-raising initiatives or wilfully defraud scheme members of their pension savings.

TPR Case study

This Cambridge-based former accountant was working for an employer with 17 members of staff. The company came to TPR attention as part of the compliance validation checks after it failed to declare compliance on time, and received a fixed penalty notice (FPN), and subsequently an escalating penalty notice (EPN). The EPN had accrued to £4,500 when the employer declared compliance, claiming that 10 employees had been automatically enrolled and two were not eligible.

TPR discovered the declaration was false when the pension scheme contacted them to say that the employer’s account had been cancelled and that no employees had been enrolled. After serving the employer with an inspection notice TPR discovered that there were indeed eligible staff. TPR also discovered that the accountant had been struck off the Chartered Institute for Management Accountants’ register in 2018.

The employer claimed that the accountant had reassured him that AE was in hand, but when challenged he enrolled the relevant staff and backdated contributions. The accountant admitted to falsifying the information on the declaration, claiming that he had misunderstood the questions on the declaration of compliance, was overwhelmed with work and had intended to re-submit the correct information when he had more time. TPR prosecuted the accountant for giving us false and misleading information – he pleaded guilty in court and was penalised nearly £5,000.