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Healthcare company fined for lying to Pensions Regulator

File image of a pension savings potA Birmingham-based healthcare company will have to pay over £20,000 after misleading The Pensions Regulator over workplace pensions for its staff.

Crest Healthcare and managing director Sheila Aluko pleaded guilty to two counts each of failing to comply with auto-enrolment, as well as a charge of “knowingly or recklessly providing false or misleading information” to TPR.

TPR first investigated the company when a whistleblower came forward to say that while money was being taken from pay packets, employees were not given information about their pension sheme, raising doubts as to whether it was in fact up and running.

In sentencing yesterday at Brighton Magistrates’ Court, District Judge Teresa Szagun described Aluko’s response to the whistleblower as “dismissive”, adding that she “must, as an intelligent businesswoman, have appreciated the obligations on her and also the intent of automatic enrolment”.

Crest Healthcare has been ordered to pay a £13,000 fine, £3,404 costs and a £120 victim surcharge. Sheila Aluko has been fined £1,624 and ordered to pay £3,404 costs and a £120 victim surcharge.

TPR auto-enrolment director Darren Ryder says: “Whistleblowers have a vital role to play in helping us ensure workers are getting the pensions they are entitled to.

“The whistleblower in this case highlighted that workers who asked Sheila Aluko about their pensions were being fobbed off with the false claim that they had been automatically enrolled.‎ When we investigated, Aluko’s story unravelled.

“I would urge anyone who believes their employer is breaching its automatic enrolment duties to contact us.”

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