There are statutory provisions, known as 'whistle-blowing' obligations, which place a legal requirement on a range of specified persons involved in the operation of occupational pension schemes, trust retirement annuity contracts (RACs) and personal retirement savings accounts (PRSAs) to report suspected fraud or material misappropriation to the Pensions Authority. Additional obligations apply for certain specified persons in relation to PRSAs and for key function holders who have made reports to trustees in particular circumstances of significant non-compliance or risk of same. There is also provision to make a voluntary report on any matter concerning the state and conduct of a pension scheme or PRSA.
Specified persons in the Pensions Act include:
- registered administrators,
- insurance intermediaries,
- PRSA providers, investment managers or administrators,
- investment advisers,
- key function holders,
- depositaries, and
- any other person who has been involved in assisting the trustees of a scheme.
The provisions also contain legal protection for the persons making such reports.
Whistle-blow reports, and other serious complaints or allegations are investigated by the Authority. The Authority commences all investigations from a position of trying to secure compliance without recourse to legal action, but it remains committed, where necessary, to using its full powers under the Pensions Act.
The majority of whistle-blow reports to the Authority relate to alleged breaches of the remittance of contributions requirements. There is a standard report and guidance form to assist specified persons in making a report in relation to suspected non-remittance/non-payment of contributions which can be accessed below. A link to guidance notes entitled ‘Compulsory and voluntary reporting to the Pensions Authority’ can be found here.