Pension offences draw court fine

Contributions paid before sentencing

Ye Old English Bakery was fined $1,800 on Monday after a representative pleaded guilty on behalf of the company to three offences against the National Pensions Law.

The company and several individuals were first taken to court in March 2010 on charges that included failure to make contributions to a pension plan for its employees during three different periods between October 2006 and December 2009.

The number of employees was not stated; neither was the amount of the unpaid contributions.

Other charges were failure to provide information to the Superintendent of Pensions within a specified time and failure to pay arrears within the time given.

At the first hearing, Crown Counsel Nicole Petit advised the court that the parties were in discussion and hoped to resolve the matter soon.

The defendants were told to come back to court and the matter was mentioned again several times throughout the rest of the year.

The bakery was not the only business before the courts for pension-related matters.

Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale determined it would be fair to all concerned if the various cases were dealt with by one court so that there would be a consistent approach.

Pension files were thereafter sent to the court of Magistrate Nova Hall.

Meanwhile, the Legal Department appointed one primary Crown Counsel to deal with the prosecution of such cases.

On 20 December, Crown Counsel Kenneth Ferguson appeared before Magistrate Hall to deal with 11 pension cases, Old English among them.

Mr. Ferguson told the court that a company representative had provided documentation showing payment of monies owed. He said he would consult with the Superintendent of Pensions to see if the company had now complied with all of its responsibilities.

On 28 February, he confirmed that all sums had been paid and there was nothing outstanding.

One of the individuals representing the company then entered pleas of guilty on behalf of the business. Mr. Ferguson withdrew charges against the individuals.

The magistrate imposed a fine of $600 for each offence. She said the fines were to be paid within 30 days or else a distress warrant would be issued against the company.

Other companies or individuals have had their pension charges continuing, some from as long ago as 2008. In bringing such matters to court, the emphasis has been on getting the employer to pay into a pension scheme the correct sum owed for each employee.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Sadly this just goes to show how slow and ineffective the current enforcement process is.

    My partner worked for Ye Olde English Bakery for six months back in 2006/7. It is likely that her complaint was one of those mentioned in prosecution.

    During that period both pension and health insurance payments were deducted from her wages, and as far we can gather those of every other employee, but retained by the owner. It only came to light when she needed medical treatment and found there was no insurance cover in place.

    This was reported to NPB and HIC but was actually only resolved by putting pressure on the owner who eventually brought all the payments up to date. I was there when he wrote out the cheque. What happened with the other members of staff is unknown.

    600 fines four years after the offences were first reported sends out a very simple message to employers that it is cheaper to ignore the law than comply with it.

    This is still being treated as a minor offence not, as it should be, fraud and theft.

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  2. I agree that the process and enforcement is highly ineffective, since I too filed a complaint in June 2009 and have yet to receive any resolution or relief…the fines would be much higher and the amount due by the employer and employee much higher. However, Ye Olde English Bakery has now had its reputation tarnished by their own wrongdoings and published in the paper…the people of the Cayman Islands and Ye Olde English Bakery should know that there are other comapnies getting away with even worse offences who are in a far better financial position to follow the laws of the National Pension Board, but yet the said company also has a lot of political power on the island. I wish my complaint could have been part of the cases being dealt with by one court…there is nothing consistent about how these complaints are handled. I wish there was more of an outrage by the companies that are struggling but yet following through with their responsibilities against the companies that are getting away with non-compliance.

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