NPO names only 14 offenders

| 13/10/2010

(CNS): Following a freedom of information request for a list of local employers that are failing to make their employee pension contributions, the NPO has released only 14 names, despite the fact that there are hundreds more. According to a recent report by the Complaints Commissioner, over the past decade the National Pensions Office has received some 2000 complaints relating to more than 600 different employers. However, the NPO said it could only release the names of employers in the cases that have reached the court system. Although some of the other complaints have been resolved, the majority are still under investigation while the unnamed delinquent employers continue their business and employ more staff.

The FOI requester, who used the pseudonym Ray Ban to make the request, told CNS that he believed the names of the employers who are failing to make contributions should be made public, giving people on opportunity to decide if they want to work for or do business with someone who is breaking the law.
 
Ray Ban expressed disappointment in the NPO’s limited revelation and indicated he would be seeking an internal review of the decision. Ban asked theNPO under a freedom of information request for a list of all the companies known to be delinquent in making pension payments for employees but the request was only partially granted.
 
“The NPO is only willing to release 14 company names despite hundreds known to be delinquent. The very limited release is disappointing,” Ray Ban told CNS, adding that he felt the NPO was hiding behind the excuse that the others, which amounts to more than 600 employers, are under investigation. “This FOI resistance gives absolutely zero deterrent to offend,” Ray Ban added, asking that at least these fourteen employers be publicised. “These 14 names should be in the public domain so that consumers can make a choice whether they wish to use these companies’ services or not.”
 
The list of names of those that have actually reached the courts includes firms that have since stopped trading as well as a number of well known local businesses.
 
However, this represents a mere fraction of the employers that owe money into their employees’ funds, an issue which was addressed in the report by the OCC. "Penny Pinching Pensions", published last month, reveals that hundreds of employees in the Cayman Islands who are close to retirement age are facing a very bleak future as their pensions are so underfunded. She also revealed that the NPO doesn’t know how many employers are defaulting on pension payments or by how much.
 
“At present the NPO does not know exactly how many complaints against delinquent employers they are charged with investigating,” the report revealed.
 
Complaints Commissioner Nicola Williams said the situation was large scale theft as employers were not only failing to pay their share of their employees’ contributions but were collecting the employees’ part from their salaries and not paying that into the fund either.
 
“This is a ticking time bomb for the people of the Cayman Islands,” Williams said, adding that the deep rooted and endemic problem was only getting worse in the poor economic climate.
 
William Adam, a member of the National Pensions Board, has also spoken out time and time again about the major failure of so many employers as well as the government’s lack of will to enforce the law, which he cites as another example of “poor governance”.
 
The current minster with responsibility for pensions, Rolston Anglin, has said his ministry intends to overhaul the law and introduce administrative fines, making it easier for the NPO to enforce the law. He also recently offered a voluntary pension holiday to employees to help employers catch up on delinquent payments. However, it is understood that less than 3% of workers have chosen to take the holiday and employers continue to lag behind.
 
The minister has raised concerns that it will be very difficult for some employers to ever catch up but has said new legislation is in the process of being drafted that will change the entire system and ensure employers violating the law will face immediate consequences.
 
“We are going to ensure that we put in place a regime wherepension violators can be dealt with administratively and immediately,” he told CNS recently. “If we don’t have a law that’s enforceable and that ensures swift action can be taken, we will continue to fight a losing battle.”
 
He warned that trying to prosecute employers did not help anyone, least of all those employees who were missing money from their pensions. “The aim of my ministry is to bring violators to account and then get the money back into the pension funds,” Anglin said.
 
Read NPO FOI request response. The employers are listed on page 3 each one is facing differing charges under the pensions law and not all are accused of directly taking contributions from employees and not paying in to the fund.
 
 
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Category: FOI

Comments (16)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    There is a saying that goes like this, "Management gets the labour relations it deserves".

    These pension thieves deserve to be knocked around by a tough union like the Teamsters. Employees need to organize and strike.

  2. Tamarind switch says:

    umm..wonder if this was administered to one of the thieves???

     In days gone by this was only supposed to be used on someone who was engaged in a crime.

    2 licks would straighten the person for life! better than the guns, knives, n machetes n people losing their loved ones forever!

    If this is the case…..NO CHARGE RCIPS !!!

  3. nauticalone says:

    Aarrhhgg!…

  4. Anonymous says:

    This whole pension scheme was a bad idea. It is just another rule that is taking away from what makes Cayman great. What makes Cayman great is lack of regulations and rules that stiffle the free market. We need to roll back a lot of these waste of time arbitary rules and regulations that is killing Cayman, Let the free market reign.

    • Anonymous says:

      I cannot agree. The problem is that people who get to the age where they wont or cant work (which seems to be about 55 here in Cayman) then demand the government look after them. The point of a pension is that it forces people to save for their retirement which is actually a good thing.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Undoubtedly one of those 14 HAS to be the Cayman Islands Government itself, since it is publicly known that it is delinquent in its legal obligations to Civil Sevrants’ pensions and past service liabilities.

    However the Premier has decreed that they are not to be paid and to hell with the Law!!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Cayman is very good at keeping the secrets and everyone get up in arms that the community refuses to disclose criminals within families when the government keeps their own secrets.

    What an example this sets for the people of the Cayman Islands.

  7. Anonymous says:

    These offenders are easy to track down, the offence should be extremely easy to prove and it is a matter of national importance and yet the prosecution rate is a microscopic 0.7%. 

    And 600 employers acting illegally on an island this small? It sounds like there must be some collusion.

    Effectively this means pension payments are optional and Cayman employers can confiscate employees wages illegally without consequences.

  8. Joe Average says:

    Not surprised by their response at all.  Considering the pension regime’s view has been to "work with employers."  Rather than working for employees and upholding the NPL.

    How many more people are going to lose their savings before this confusion stops??

  9. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know what the solution is but closing down 600 companies is this sad state of the economy would be the death blow for Cayman. We have enough unemployment as it is. Even shutting down just these 14 could seriously drive up our unemployment and further drive us into recession.

    We need to sort out which ones are just deliquent and those that are intentionally taking the pension money for personal gain.

    I know that there are a lot of instances where there is but two choices, pay the pension and shut down or don’t pay it in order to keep the business going and the employees paid and working.

    Things are tough out there folks! We need to be careful what we ask for!

    • Joe Average says:

      12:49: You make it sound as if the pension monies belonged to the employers.  They do not.  Those amounts are deducted from wages earned and belong to the employees.  If the logic used is "I need to steal from them to keep them employed"…. then that person or persons should not be running a business period. Cayman does not need that kind of business. 

      Further, if any business failed to pay it’s suppliers they would soon be found in default for lack of payment and would be pursued, but in this case 600 or more local employers have decided it’s a matter of "business smarts" to default on their employees’ pension submissions. 

      Why are most not being pursued? And when they are it’s a half-hearted effort.  Because, as you say, they would go broke?  See first paragraph.

  10. Anonymous says:

    What a disgrace the Pension Board and Government are, while so called employers are falsely taking employees contributions they stand by idle doing virtually nothing.

    There is a simple solution to these companys that are fraudulently operating if the Pension Board is so weak that they cannot prosecute them then proceed to deny them work permits and trade and business licenses until such time as prosecutions can be carried out.Simple really.

    Also why bother making expats pay pension this is the stupidest idea as they are all short term employees, I agree that Caymanians and status holders should contribute for a rainy day but please explain the reason for Expats ?

    What a mess.

    • FedUpCaymanian says:

      This is more than a disgrace.  These employers are taking hard-earned money from their employees and not turning it over to the Pension Funds.  This is nothing short of stealing and should be a criminal offense.  In the meanwhile, honest employers who do pay their obligations are having to unfairly compete with these unscrupulous ones who have a lower overhead and can charge less for their services.

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t know who is the worst thief, the employers or the pension administrators. One way or the other it still ends up in one thing for the employee…loss!

    • Anonymous says:

      Every ex-pat is a potential status holder…..

    • The Buck Stops Here says:

      There is a simple reason ex-pats are part of these dysfunctional pension plans…. two years later… in a faraway country…they try to retrieve their bogus pension…..and what do you know…..it’s not there!!  NOW try and do something about it.  "We’ll get to you as soon as we deal with the other 670 cases."  It’s a damn good thing new cars are the priority and not one MLA or the Premier is missing their pension.  Enjoy your stay.