Will The Pensions Regulator (TPR) take a similar approach to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) when initiating criminal proceedings?
The long-awaited Pension Schemes Act 2021 (the Act) received Royal Assent on 11 February 2021. Within the Act, new offences have been inserted into the Pensions Act 2004 (PA04) which include Section 58A (avoidance of employer debt) and Section 58B (conduct risking accrued scheme benefits), both carrying a risk of imprisonment for up to seven years.
On 11 March 2021, TPR published a draft policy outlining its approach on how it will use its new criminal powers to investigate and prosecute those who avoid employer debts or put member benefits at risk.
The approach will be subject to the consultation it has also published and the final policy will be issued later in the year. The criminal sanctions will not come into force until the autumn of 2021 and are not expected to have retrospective effect, although TPR has said that evidence pre-dating the implementation date may be taken into account, as regards the intent of the parties.
This blog covers some of the practical points that are worthy of note.