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Bosses reckless with pension schemes could be jailed, warns Amber Rudd

The Pensions Secretary proposed ‘wilful or reckless behaviour’ relating to a pension scheme will become a criminal offence.

Jail sentences could be for up to seven years, Amber Rudd said (PA)
Jail sentences could be for up to seven years, Amber Rudd said (PA)

Bosses who are reckless with their employees’ pensions could be jailed for up to seven years, Amber Rudd has warned.

The Pensions Secretary said “wilful or reckless behaviour” relating to a pension scheme will become a criminal offence and could lead to an unlimited fine.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, she warned those judged to be guilty of such a crime: “We’re coming for you.”

If you chronically mismanage a pension scheme and it goes under, we’re coming for you Amber Rudd

Ms Rudd said: “To curb these freelancers playing fast and loose with your cash, I am going to make ‘wilful or reckless behaviour’ relating to a pension scheme a criminal offence, with jail terms of up to seven years for the worst offenders. We’ll also give the courts powers to levy unlimited – yes unlimited – fines.

“So if you run your company pension into the ground, saddling it with massive, unsustainable debts, we’re coming for you.

“If you gamble your employees’ futures on risky investments that put a pension scheme at risk, we’re coming for you.

“And if you chronically mismanage a pension scheme and it goes under, we’re coming for you.”

The Government launched a consultation last summer as part of moves to beef up the powers of The Pensions Regulator (TPR), enabling it to step in more quickly and more often when companies make changes which could damage the pension scheme.

Ms Rudd’s pledge follows the BHS pensions scandal.

A year after it was sold by Sir Philip Green for £1 in 2015, the retailer collapsed into administration, leaving a £571 million pension deficit.

Sir Philip later agreed to pay £363 million towards it to end action against him by the Pensions Regulator.

Treasury Chief Secretary Liz Truss backed Ms Rudd’s proposals, saying it was wrong Sir Philip could “play merry hell” with pensions.

“It’s about saying that’s not acceptable, it’s not acceptable to play merry hell with the contributions workers have made over a period of time and essentially run off without making good the pensions you promised to those people in the future, and so we’ll take further sanctions,” she told Sky’s Ridge On Sunday.

PA

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