The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has charged an accountant with deliberately providing false information to the UK pensions watchdog for claiming that the employer he was working for had put staff at a London cafe into a workplace pension.
Hashmukh Shah, 63, of Richmond, Surrey, has been charged with knowingly or recklessly providing false or misleading information to TPR, which is an offense under section 80 of the Pensions Act 2004. Under the UK’s pension auto-enrollment program, which was introduced with the Pensions Act of 2008, every employer in the UK must put certain staff into a workplace pension plan and pay contributions toward it.
It is the first time TPR has charged a third party, working on behalf of an employer, for this offense.
TPR accused Shah of falsely claiming that employees at London-based Gran Caffe Londra, which is run by Primadell Ltd., had been enrolled into a workplace pension plan. TPR says Shah knew this was not the case, and alleges that he tried to mislead TPR to avoid an inspection that would have uncovered the employer’s failure to automatically enroll its workers.
Shah is due to appear at Brighton Magistrates Court on Aug. 15.
According to a TPR bulletin for January to March, the number of times the regulator used its powers during the first quarter made up 20% of all the powers used since the start of automatic enrollment.
“Huge numbers of employers are starting their workplace pensions duties every month and the vast majority are successfully meeting their duties,” TPR’s Director of Automatic Enrollment, Darren Ryder, said in a release. “However, where an employer fails to do the right thing for their staff, we will take action using the wide range of powers available to us.”
Approximately 9.5 million employees UK-wide have been put into a pension, by more than 1 million employers, according to TPR’s annual report released last month.