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U.K. fines two multiemployer plans over compliance

A U.K. tribunal has upheld a decision by the Pensions Regulator to fine two defined contribution multiemployer plans for lack of compliance with U.K. laws regarding information contained in annual statements, the Pensions Regulator said Tuesday.

In two separate cases, trustees of Smart Pension and Moore Stephens Master Trust, both based in London, were ordered to pay 2,000 ($2,613) and 500 in fines, respectively.

The TPR said trustees of the two plans failed to include information required by law in their annual statements, known in the U.K. as chair statements, in 2015-'16 and 2016-'17, respectively. The trustees appealed the decisions to the U.K. First-Tier Tribunal, which handles compliance appeals in the U.K.

"Annual chair's statements are an essential way to show retirement savers that their fund is being properly governed and will deliver the retirement benefits they are promised. That's why it is the law for trustees to produce chair's statements and make sure they contain all of the necessary information," Nicola Parish, executive director for frontline regulation at TPR, said in a news release.

In the case brought by a Smart Pension trustee, the tribunal judge said the requirements stated funds should not simply prepare an annual governance statement, but "prepare a statement containing a considerable amount of clearly specified and detailed information."

In the case brought by trustees of the Moore Stephens Master Trust, the judge ruled that "some penalty" for the failure was "appropriate."

Responding to the decision, Smart Pension spokesman said in an emailed comment: "This penalty notice refers to a statement prepared 2 1/2 years ago and to a reporting period three years ago. It was the first public-facing chair statement prepared on behalf of our scheme and produced at a time when there was no regulatory guidance and the regulator's expectations were far from clear."

Moore Stephens Master Trust's spokesman could not be reached.