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U.K. proposes increasing Pension Regulator’s power concerning corporate decisions

The U.K. government is seeking input from money managers, plan sponsor and plan participants on whether to boost the powers of The Pensions Regulator in efforts to increase protections for the participants of defined benefit funds, it said in a consultation launched Tuesday.

The consultation follows the U.K. government's plans announced in March that seek for the TPR to have a mandate to "get involved early" in case sponsoring employers make corporate decisions that could affect the pension funds.

The TPR should get access to relevant data shining light on the condition of the plan and the sponsoring employer, according to the policy proposal. The U.K. government also seeks for the regulator to be able to get redress for participants if a corporate transaction harms the pension fund. The comment period is open until Aug. 21.

"We will work with the regulator to strengthen the existing notifiable events framework and voluntary clearance regime so that employers have appropriate regard to pension considerations in any relevant corporate transactions," the government said.

The government wants to prevent and punish deliberate actions of employers that put pension funds at risk, it said. The regulator, in addition to anti-avoidance powers, will have "punitive" powers at its disposal to be able to punish any willful and reckless behavior of company directors, including disqualifying directors.