Prudential chief executive Peter Davis has publicly apologised for the company's role in misselling thousands of personal pensions.
But Davis admits that the Pru does not know if it will meet its latest deadline for reviewing 90 per cent of its priority cases by the end of November.
The startling admission and apology came in an interview on the BBC's The Money Programme, screened last Sunday night. During the interview, Davis said: "We are very sorry about those who have been hurt and we are doing everything we can to try and deal with the issues as quickly as we can." He admits to being "ashamed".
The Pru has about 70,000 priority cases to review, more than any other life office, and was one of 41 firms "named and shamed" by Treasury economic secretary Helen Liddell.
Last month, SIB blasted the Pru, saying its approach to the pension review had "serious shortcomings" and blamed poor management, a lack of care, skill and diligence.
Pru missed its agreed deadline for dealing with 90 per cent of priority cases by the end of September, as well as missing a target in June. It maintains that it will meet its final March deadline.
But Liddell says: "I cannot be happy with the speed of progress. Targets have been set and some companies are going to meet their targets. There are still some companies, however, who are in complete and utter denial."
Davis is currently fronting the Pru's pension ads which aim to project a reassuring image. Davis tells viewers he is their "safety net".