Pensions Regulator prosecutes for failure to provide information
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has published a report on its first criminal prosecutions for failing to provide information requested as part of ongoing investigations.
The regulatory intervention report outlines two separate successful actions taken against, firstly, a solicitor and the firm where he is a partner, and secondly, the head of a charity.
The report alerts others to the potential for TPR to bring criminal charges for neglecting or refusing to provide information or produce documents required under Section 72 of the Pensions Act 2004. Fines available to the court are unlimited.
Nicola Parish, Executive Director for Frontline Regulation at TPR, said:
“Our power to require companies and individuals to provide us with information is an important tool in our regulatory case work. The refusal to provide specifically requested information was the simple reason for these two recent prosecutions.
“From now on we will not hesitate to prosecute further companies or individuals if they refuse to give us the right information to investigate cases and ultimately protect pension savers.”
TPR’s report details how it used its Section 72 power to require information from London-based Ashley Wilson Solicitors LLP. The documents related to a property linked to an individual who was involved in a TPR pension scam investigation. (The solicitors and their client were not themselves under investigation.)
Ashley Wilson Solicitors LLP and Anthony Wilson, the managing partner of the firm, pleaded guilty to the offence at Brighton Magistrates’ Court for refusing to provide documents required under Section 72 without a reasonable excuse, which is an offence under Section 77(1) of the Act. District Judge Christopher James ordered Mr Wilson to pay a £4,000 fine, £7,500 costs and a £120 victim surcharge. He ordered Ashley Wilson Solicitors LLP to pay a £2,700 fine, £2,500 costs and a £120 victim surcharge.
In a separate case, TPR prosecuted Patrick McLarry, the Chief Executive of Hampshire-based Yateley Industries for the Disabled Limited, for failing to provide documents linked to an investigation into unusual scheme investments, despite being pursued for over 18 months for the information.
Mr McLarry pleaded not guilty to refusing to produce, without reasonable excuse, documents required under Section 72, but he was convicted of the offence, also at Brighton Magistrates’ Court.
Finding Mr McLarry guilty and ordering him to pay a £2,500 fine, £4,000 costs and a £120 victim surcharge, District Judge Christopher James said he had imposed a significant financial penalty to reflect high culpability.
The week after his conviction, Mr McLarry provided the relevant information to TPR. The information required from Ashley Wilson Solicitors LLP and Anthony Wilson was obtained when TPR executed a search warrant at the firm’s offices prior to the conviction.