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Businessman ordered to pay £12,800 for failing to hand information to TPR

Ref: PN20-10

Issued: Wednesday 4 March 2020

A company director at the centre of an investigation by The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has been handed a £10,000 fine and ordered to pay £2,800 costs for failing to hand over information and documents.

Michael Woolley, 63, of Oakdene Road, Redhill, Surrey, failed to appear before Brighton Magistrates’ Court today after telling the court he had already booked a diving holiday in Cuba.

TPR has asked for information about investments relating to money and assets from 16 pension schemes as part of an ongoing investigation. TPR has the power to request relevant information and documents under section 72 of the Pensions Act 2004.

Woolley is the director and a shareholder of Southbank Capital Limited, where the money was invested, and director of PIM Trustees Limited which is trustee for the pension schemes.

TPR formally requested the information on 22 January 2019. He failed to provide all of the information requested by the statutory deadline of 12 February 2019 without a reasonable excuse.

The court heard one of the reasons given for his continued failure to provide the information was that he had been busy attempting to qualify for the Fastnet Race – a biennial offshore yacht contest. He had been prioritising leisure activities over provision of the required information to TPR.

District Judge Tessa Szagun found that, as the sole director, Woolley should have had access to the required information and his failure to provide it tied up TPR’s time and resources.

Erica Carroll, TPR’s Director of Enforcement, said: “The use of our information gathering powers is essential in our work to safeguard people’s pensions.

“Anyone refusing to comply with our requests without good reason should take note – they could find themselves in court with a criminal record.”

Woolley was ordered to pay the money within 28 days.

Notes for editors

  1. TPR has the power under section 72 of the Pensions Act 2004 to issue a notice requiring the recipient to provide us with information and documents relevant to our statutory functions.
  2. Failure to provide such information, without a reasonable excuse, is a criminal offence contrary to section 77(1) of the Pensions Act 2004 which can result in an unlimited fine. Additionally, those involved can suffer serious reputational damage from being successfully prosecuted for non-compliance with the law.
  3. The Pensions Regulator is the regulator of work-based pension schemes in the UK. Our statutory objectives are: to protect members’ benefits; to reduce the risk of calls on the Pension Protection Fund (PPF); to promote, and to improve understanding of, the good administration of work-based pension schemes; to maximise employer compliance with automatic enrolment duties; and to minimise any adverse impact on the sustainable growth of an employer (in relation to the exercise of the regulator’s functions under Part 3 of the Pensions Act 2004 only).

Press contacts

Dan Menhinnitt

Media Officer
01273 349511

Matt Adams

Senior Media and Parliamentary Manager
01273 662086

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