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18 Jul 08: Pensions Ombudsman Secures First Criminal Conviction

Pensions Ombudsman Secures First Criminal Conviction Galway Builder Found Guilty and Fined Max. €5,000 and Costs For Failure To Produce Payroll Records The Pensions Ombudsman, Mr. Paul Kenny, today (Friday 18th July 2008) secured his first criminal conviction in Tuam District Court. Mr. David Denton, Director, 3D Restoration & Construction Ltd of Barnaderg, Co. Galway was prosecuted under Section 3 (1) (b) of the Pensions Act 1990 for failing to comply with the request for payroll documentation made by one of the Ombudsman’s investigators. Mr. Denton’s company is under investigation following an allegation that pension deductions had been made from wages but not remitted to the Construction Workers Pension Scheme. Earlier in the year, the Pensions Ombudsman had sought and obtained an Order in Galway Circuit Court directing Mr. Denton to comply with his request for payroll records. Mr. Kenny has indicated that to-date, Mr. Denton had not complied with a court order to his satisfaction and his legal advisors are now seeking remedy through Galway Circuit Court. Mr. Kenny said that he had not made any Determination in this case, as yet, as he did not have the full facts. “However, it is a very serious offence to obstruct an investigation by my Office” he said. “Employers and, importantly, their advisors, must realise that failure to comply with a request for information or documentation from my Office will have very serious consequences. I will go to the Circuit Court and will get an Order requiring production of the documentation and failure to comply with a court order is no trivial matter. Furthermore, the act of not producing the information is a criminal offence in itself and I will initiate criminal proceedings in the District Court for obstruction – as I have done in this case. Leaving aside the financial implications of having to pay both legal costs and, if I eventually find against them, the cost of repaying pension contributions, employers should seriously consider the implications for themselves of having a criminal conviction registered against them. “It gives me no joy to go down this road, but in certain cases, I am left with no option but to use all of the legal avenues available to my Office to complete an investigation. In this particular case, there is now a criminal conviction in place with an order for my costs and compliance with a separate court order is an issue for the company.” For further information, contact Mr. Paul Kenny, Ombudsman, at (01) 6471650 or see www.pensionsombudsman.ie 18 July, 2008