OCC: NPO has failed public

| 12/09/2010

(CNS): The Complaints Commissioner submitted her first own motion report to the Legislative Assembly on Friday highlighting the systematic failure of the National Pensions Office (NPO) to enforce the pensions law and bring justice to hundreds of people whose employers have literally stolen their contributions. Nicola Williams found that the NPO had failed to use its powers under the law effectively, as well as a lack of political will to address the problem, a break down of inter-agency communication and a host of other problems that has led to a complete loss of trust by the public in the NPO. Despite the worrying findings in the report presented to members by MLA Cline Glidden, he made no comment about them and there was no debate in the House.

The Legislative Assembly has never once debated a report produce by the Office of the Complaints Commissioner since the establishment of the office in 2005. Although this is Williams’ first Own Motion, her predecessor John Epp also published a widelist of reports highlighting various failures in government systems that were also ignored by the members of the LA.
 
However, the report is now a public document which can be obtained from the OCC at the Piccadilly Centre. It reveals how administrative failures have allowed employers to take contributions from employees but not pay that or their matched obligation into a pension over and over again and escape prosecution.
 
Williams says that the system has given delinquent employers too many chances pay back arrears which has never happened and simply seen the debt grow, and when a decision to prosecute had finally been made it has taken too long.
 
“Too many chances are given to non-compliant businesses to pay the pension arrears, which are routinely ignored,” the OCC wrote in her report. “In the meanwhile, the outstanding level of arrears increases. Once a decision has been made to prosecute a delinquent employer prosecutions through the court system are too slow and are not an effective enough deterrent to prevent non-compliance.” She pointed out it could take as much as five years for a case to be heard.
 
While the OCC said the legislation and the regulations regarding the pension law needed substantial revision, she also pointed to other remedies earlier in the process which have not been utilised.
 
“There is still clear evidence of the inability of related government departments (immigration and health) to share communication,” the report stated. It notes that there has been a lack of will to withhold work permits from delinquent employers or to force them to pay their pensions or cease trading.
 
The OCC further warned that many employees fear being victimized if they take action against an employer and there is little or no protection for whistleblowers.
 
Williams explained that the report was initiated as a result of numerous complaints received by the office, which she described as theft. In one case a complainant had reached retirement and found his pension empty because of the failure of his employer to pay the contributions he had collected from him as an employee as well as the employer’s share.
 
“This is far from an unusual story,” Williams stated. “This is a ticking time bomb for the people of Cayman.”
 
Despite complaints and evidence that numerous employers are not complying, many of them are still issued trade and business licenses as well as work permits, and some have even received government contracts. She also points out that the problem has spanned a ten-year period and both political parties have failed to tackle the problem.
 
Recommending a complete overhaul of the system and the law and noting that simply throwing money at the problem wouldn’t work, Williams said that employers were taking advantage of the weakness of the system. She acknowledged that resources had been a problem and that there had never been enough inspectors at the NPO from the start, but the commissioner said the problems with the system went far beyond a shortage of staff.
 
Williams also said that at the start of the investigation the NPO estimated 670 businesses were non-compliant but as the OCC investigation progressed, Williams said, it became apparent the figure was wide of the mark.
 
“At present the NPO does not know exactly how many complaints against delinquent employers they are charged with investigating,” the report revealed.
 
The OCC’s annual report for year ending June 2008 was also submitted to the Legislative Assembly and is now a public document. During the year 2007-08 the office dealt with almost 500 complaints and undertook three own motion investigations.
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  1. No Greener Pastures Here!! says:

    What about all the Administrators that have done some poor investing of our fund in the markets overseas, and lost hundreds of thousands of or pension money.

    Whose going to bring them to justice??

    Fix the darn law or throw it out the window with the bath water!!!

  2. Pink Parrot says:

    Cayman is a "Christian country" in the "believe in creationism and close shops of Sunday" sense of the Christian, not the "act in a manner consistent with the teaching of Christ" Christian.

    What would Jesus do?  Probably not steal from those that work honestly for you.

  3. noname says:

     The first and foremost responsibility of the government is to protect it’s citizens. The government is the one who instituted the MANDATORY contribution to the pension fund. Shame on you. 

    • Anonymous says:

      …and stop saying ‘shame on you’  they like hearing it. 

      What they need to hear is "5 to 7 with no parole THIEF!"

  4. Anonymous says:

    Is there any OTHER reason these many employers are not brought to justice for stealing from their employees than they are Caymanian?

    I thought not.

    That is the cost of doing business in the Cayman islands.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, The OTHER reason is that the ones who are getting paid to bring them to justice are also Caymanian!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Does the minister pay pension to his employees who work for his companies?

  6. Cj says:

    Well according to the minister of Finance population growth is our solution to our economic growth according his economic & stats office which by the way is run by who? It has nothing to do with their mismanagement the fact that most money paid to our foreign labor is leaving to support other countries economies can the same office explain to us how that is benefiting Cayman. The Crime situation which they cant seem to figure out the immigration policies they created to "tweek’  political promises they made to get elected a government run by lazy  inept and corrupt job 4 life supporters who constantly jump from one party to the next, depending on who is in power and a host of other personal baggage they bring to the table. I swear the constant blame and excuses and reasoning of some politicians makes you question their mental condition. What they need to do is sort people pensions out Mr minister of Immigration.  

  7. Anonymous says:

    We have lost the plot eeh? The sucess of this contry was built over the last 40 years on the free market and no regulation,

    If you are not smart enough to put away your money for the future that is your business, if you are not smart enough to have your own health care plan, that is your business,the goverment should not be forcing me to pay for anything that i do not want to pay for, The goverment should make sure that we have water power and garbage collection, and then get out of my way.

  8. John Evans says:

    I was taken off writing a story about this, probably because my employer was defaulting on pension payments at the time.

    Blaming the NPO doesn’t work. They are under-resourced, hampered by inefficient legislation that favours the employer and subject to political interference.

    The most telling part of the story reads, “There is still clear evidence of the inability of related government departments (immigration and health) to share communication,” the report stated. It notes that there has been a lack of will to withhold work permits from delinquent employers or to force them to pay their pensions or cease trading."

    And that pretty much sums up the NPO’s position. In 2007, with a staff of just five or six, they were trying single-handed to deal with around 600 defaulting employers. The true figures were (and probably still are)unknown because of a combination of Hurricane Ivan, the Cayman Islands’ failure to keep proper records of business registrations and a failure by the pension funds to make timely reports of defaulting employers, the latter being a widely ignored legal requirement under the Pensions Law.

    Attempts to get Immigration and the WPB to block work permits when there was proof that the potential employer was taking money and failing to pay it into a pension fund had failed, as had attempts to get the RCIPs to prosecute employers for fraud or theft. In simple terms the NPO were forced to work on their own to deal with fraud and theft on a massive scale simply because no one else wanted to get involved.

    While I was working on the story we contrasted this with my own experience as a civil servant in the UK. My department had powers to enter premises and seize records if an employer was believed to be failing to pay statutory contributions. We regularly prosecuted defaulters (closing many businesses down in the process) while enjoying the full support of other departments and the local police. Right now, that same department regularly cooperates in joint operations with police, immigration and other agencies to defeat fraud by employers.

    It’s not about whether or not the NPO were doing their job (which I think they were) but whether or not there was a willingness within the Cayman Islands to address the problem. To many this was seen as victimless crime because most of those involved were ex-pats who would never qualify for a pension in the Cayman Islands anyway. The problem with this attitude is that turning a blind eye to this level of domestic fraud raises some very embarrassing questions about regulation of financial matters on the islands in general.

    • Anonymous says:

      People holding residency and status have been screwed out of their pensions while the big get bigger and their wallets get fatter.  I have two friends that were having deductions taken out of their paychecks for Pension payments and not only did their employers deduct those amounts they never paid the pension office either. 

      The Government here doesn’t want money because it’s right there to be collected and they do nothing. So they borrow more and more.  As long as they get to keep their houses and their cars, what do they care?

       

       

       

  9. Anonymous says:

    Name them and Shame them Ms. ! Where can I get a list of the 600 – for I will not do business with any of them.

    • Anonymous says:

      You shouldn’t do business with them. THEY ARE THIEVES. they steal from the people that help them and THEY WILL SURE AS HELL STEAL FROM YOU!

      By the way, it’s probably way over 600.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Miller was off island when this report was tabled by C G, I know

    he will have the guts to debate it and put some people to shame. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I would hope that Mr. Miller will debate this subject, but I doubt it because he attacked the previous Auditor General Mr. Douguay when he should have praised him.

      Ms. Williams will probably suffer the same fate when the power brokers line up against her because the pension report shows poor governance by all governments since the law was enacted, both the UDP, PPM and now UDP governments have all again failed to protect my pension fund.

      Shame, Shame, Shame on all of you!

      Ms. Williams, start looking for another job, your work will not be appreciated and sadly I will be one of the thousands of losers.

      I wish that I could openly demonstrate my anger.
       

       

    • Anonymous says:

      yeah right

  11. amazed says:

    I’m new to the island, but on the face of it this seems like a national scandal to me!  It’s just stealing! Can anyone tell me who I can  lobby about this? Why is nothing done?

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Because in Grand Cayman it is NORMAL to steal and be stolen from and has been since the first Caymanian stepped foot on island.  Your new so just wait a little while and it will be your turn.

    • Anonymous says:

      We hate admitting it but we our ancestors were PIRATES!!

      That is why they want to do away with Pirate’s Week.

      Make it go away. Then we can put our heads back in the sand

      • Anonymous says:

        hey! we did do away with pirates week.That’s what I heard and I haven’t heard any different. I donated my eye-patch to the humane society.

    • Anonymous says:

      holy moly, you must be new to the island if you think this is a scandal.  You may want to start a scrapbook of scandals, and ‘newer faster work permit process’. Take a look at it in ten years. I may make you feel dirty.

    • Pauly Cicero says:

      You have the right to shut up or leave. That is all. Have a nice day. Oh, welcome to Cayman.

  12. Scrooge McDuck says:

    Five years to prosecute…maybe.  Two years off island to collect.  Yeah right. 

    Contact the pension administrator because there is a discrepancy in your statement.

    Wait.

    Administrator sends a complimentary reminder letter.

    Wait.

    Administrator sends a double double reminder letter.

    Wait.

    Next statement…bad.

    Contact administrator.

    Advised to file a complaint with the NPO.

    Wait.

    Next statement… even worse.

    Wait some more.

    Contact NPO.

    Wait.

    Work permit up for renewal?

    You’re outta here.

    With absolutely no idea where, when, or if your money will ever be recovered.

    Answer:  Do not allow employers to make pension or health insurance deductions and be responsible for submitting them. With 600 employer cases and who knows how many employees suffering that SHOULD be obvious. 

    Thanks for bringing this to the attention of the legislature Ms. Williams but they were asleep dreaming of their own pensions.

     

  13. nauticalone says:

    And in addition to our incompetent politicians, what does our Governor and Deputy Governor…and Attorney General have to say???….waiting….thought so. Nothing about "good governance"?….no?….

    After all they are the top Civil Servants and supposedly the top law enforcer (respectively) and are almost always silent or with some pathetic rhetoric.

    If only Dan Duguay was Governor.

    A very concerned law abiding caymanian.

  14. Beachboi says:

    MY FUTURE is being handled by a bunch of idiots using it to pay their salaries.  I say dissolve the whole pension idea and give me my money now.  Then start over!!!  At this rate I wont have anything left to retire on anyway!!

  15. Anonymous says:

    The attorney general has the authority to enforce these laws on behalf of the people.  Does he ever do anything?

    • Anonymous says:

      seems to give bad legal advice occasionally….

    • Anonymous says:

      He is far too busy with enforcing laws that deal with dog ownership.

    • Anonymous says:

      Have you heard of him doing anything?  No we just keep on paying for private Security details for him.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Let me guess, anyone abusing the pension system has a friend in politics and / or immigration. How else could it be pushed under the rug? 

    • Anonymous says:

      Anon 15:32: It’s simple. The abusers are Caymanian employers and no one ever holds Caymanians accountable. It loses votes. Or if you are a non Caymanian employer trying to hold a Caymanian employee accountable, it loses you your job. Ah so it go and ah so it has always gone.

      • Anonymous says:

        ALL employers are Caymanian employers 

        • Anonymous says:

          Sorry Sun 18:07, I see your point but I was referring to the civil service for example where if a foreign HOD tries to hold a Caymanian accountable, he’s outta here. As has happened recently at Public Works Dept.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The failure is not with the NPO but with the original legislation.

    Creating laws that are not going to be enforced is a huge waste of time and money.

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you or does anyone know what it is the NPO does?  They don’t administer the funds dothey.  What exactly are they responsible for?

       

    • Anonymous says:

      No Laws are enforced, silly!

  18. Anonymous says:

    “At present the NPO does not know exactly how many complaints against delinquent employers they are charged with investigating,” the report revealed.   why? why? why? why? why?

    I say pay back the people owed using money from the NPO fat cats pension. Problem solved.

  19. Chronic says:

     Say Wha not a word from our so called "people protectors" my word but is she surprised of course they are not going to say anything they know exactly where those monies are going straight to them and their cronies. Hush up Ms Williams their complicity in such matters should be kept quite. It is also very dangerous to be right when the government is wrong. Only difference between the Mafia and government is size.

  20. Anonymous says:

    ……over and over and over and over…..

    administrative failures have allowed employers to take contributions from employees but not pay that or their matched obligation into a pension over and over again and escape prosecution.

    administrative failures have allowed employers to take contributions from employees but not pay that or their matched obligation into a pension over and over again and escape prosecution.

    administrative failures have allowed employers to take contributions from employees but not pay that or their matched obligation into a pension over and over again and escape prosecution.

    administrative failures have allowed employers to take contributions from employees but not pay that or their matched obligation into a pension over and over again and escape prosecution……….

    are you sick of it yet? do you still love your heros?

  21. Anonymous says:

    STOP bothering Cline Glidden with this petty stuff.  He has a company to run!!! sheesh

  22. Anonymous says:

    Ridiculous. Cayman:  A third world country with a first world face run by a loser with a 6th grade education. Good luck…

    • Anonymous says:

      HHHHHHEEEEEEEEYYYYYYY, he finished through grade 9.  Get your facts straight!

      • Frequ says:

        I heard it was 7th, which would be approx 13

        If you don’t learn how to play nice in the sandboxes and playgrounds of your youth, then you stunt your growth as an adult.

        Going to school plays a very important part in maturity, growth and interacting with others.

        I think you all see where this is going…. 

  23. Anonymous says:

    Very very sad, that  in a country of ours with so many church going christians, that nobody is standing up to help these people (majority on poor wages etc) who are the victims of theft. One of the ten commandments is ‘thou shalt not steal’ , this applies just as much to a robbery at a gas station, as to an employer stealing employee pension contributions.

  24. Like It Is says:

    Like the last Complaints Commissioner, Ms. Williams better learn that Caymanian politicians only have two possible responses to a complaint that is upheld a) ignore the report or b) rudely criticise the findings as wrong because they cannot be wrong.  The PPM did it before, the UDP will do it now.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Maybe it’s civil servants at the NPO that people are complaining about when they bad mouth the CS.  Well? 

  26. Anonymous says:

    can someone tell me where I can find out who is in charge of the National Pensions Office.  Thank You 

    • Anonymous says:

      no one  ha ha ha  

    • Anonymous says:

      Rolston Anglin is the Minister is charge of Pensions and Amy Wolliston has been the Acting Superintendent of Pensions for the last year.

  27. Anonymous says:

     Now that the report is in the public domain, what is our responsible government going to do about it.  It will be left to be seen.  There will be hick-ups, coughing, pneumonia and rhetoric as to why nothing can be done about it. Sometimes, I wonder if Slocum was representing us if there wouldn’t be better representation and fairness across the board.  Wake up from the coma UDP.

    It is time that poor people get their fair share of JUSTICE.  I guess you will have to watch your back.  Thanks to Ms. Williams for exposing the corrupt practices of many companies/businesses.  What is the penalty?

  28. Anonymous says:

    Literal stealing should be dealt with legally the same as literal stealing.  Get these thieves. Go after them, get the money, and return it to it’s owners.

    Do it, or tell us why you are harboring these thieves! 

  29. Anonymous says:

    lets face it. no one cares and no one is prepared to investigate in fear they are investigated too.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Robbed on the streets and robbed at work. Everyone who owns property here is selling or thinking about selling. Who would buy? It’s a tiny island, a competent government could have turned this around, but they have failed and downward slide of Cayman is well under way. Too bad. I wonder where Mac will be moving to when the island is no longer a good place to live.

  31. Anonymous says:

    What a disgraceful situation, added to by the fact that our legislators with their platinum plated pension scheme had nothing to say about it.

    • TennisAce says:

       The reason why nothing is being done is because the people to whom this is happening do not have a vote and the ones who are perpetrating the wrong are the ones with the vote.   Not sure why I am surprised by this. 

      Many employers deduct pension, and health contributions and you never know that they are not being paid over until you get sick and go to the hospital or you are ready to reclaim your pension contributions and realise that you do not have any. 

      While we may be of the view that it is just the low wage earners that this is in relation to, nope, it is right across the Board and employees needing their jobs and needing to be able to pay their bills suffer in silence.  Not sure why anyone is surprised by this.  This is Cayman.