A healthcare company and its managing director have pleaded guilty to misleading The Pensions Regulator (TPR) about providing their staff with a workplace pension.
Birmingham-based Crest Healthcare and Sheila Aluko admitted recklessly providing false or misleading information to TPR. They also admitted wilfully failing to comply with their automatic enrolment duties.
On March 22 2016, Aluko submitted a declaration of compliance to TPR claiming that the employer had complied with its duties. She claimed staff had been written to about the pension scheme and said 25 staff had been enrolled into a workplace pension scheme.
TPR said that the employer had not actually completed the setting up of a pension scheme, had not automatically enrolled any staff and had not written to its staff to tell them about automatic enrolment, as it was legally bound to do - no pension contributions had been paid.
The regulator said the employer then began deducting pension contributions from the wages of some workers but kept them in the company’s bank account and did not pay them into a pension scheme for more than eight months.
It was only after a whistleblower raised the alarm – and TPR had executed a search warrant at Crest Healthcare’s offices and interviewed Aluko under caution – that the pension scheme was set up and the contributions were paid in.
Darren Ryder, TPR’s director of automatic enrolment, said: “Aluko tried to conceal her company’s non-compliance by hiding behind false information and misleading her staff that their pensions were up and running.
“It was only after we intervened that the employer finally complied with its duties and provided its staff with the workplace pensions they were entitled to.
“While the majority of employers are doing the right thing, this case sends a clear message that it is unacceptable to dodge your pension responsibilities - and that we will take action against those who try to.”
Crest Healthcare and Aluko’s case for sentencing will take place May 15 2018.