Accountant admits to deliberately misleading TPR

An accountant has admitted to providing false information to The Pensions Regulator, telling them that staff at a London cafe were enrolled into a pension scheme.

Hashmukh Shah, 63, of Richmond, Surrey, has admitted to claims of knowingly or recklessly declaring that Gran Caffe Londra in Knightsbridge, run by Primadell Ltd, had met is pension duties.

TPR launched an investigation when the cafe missed the deadline for enrolling staff into a pension scheme in October 2015. The false declaration by Shah paused TPR’s investigation for more than a year, in which time the café continued to deny its staff pension rights.

At Brighton Magistrates Court Wednesday, August 15, Shah admitted to providing false information and preventing an inspection which would have uncovered the employer’s failure to automatically enrol its staff.

Deliberately providing false information to TPR about compliance with automatic enrolment duties is an offence under section 80 of the Pensions Act 2004.

Director of automatic enrolment at TPR, Darren Ryder, said the prosecution of Shah sends a strong message to accountants and advisers tasked with completing employers’ automatic enrolment duties.

“If you provide us with false or misleading information we will take legal action which may leave you with a criminal conviction. We will also ensure backdated contributions are paid to staff,” he said in a statement.

This is the first time TPR has prosecuted a third party, working on behalf of an employer, for this offence. The case has been adjourned until 5 September for sentencing, where the charge carries a maximum penalty of an unlimited fine.

Primadell, which runs the cafe, became compliant in March 2018 and has now backdated pension contributions.

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