UK - Ministers must toughen up the regulation of occupational pension schemes or risk facing another Maxwell scandal, a committee of MPs has warned.
A report from the parliamentary committee of public accounts said the Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority in its current guise would not be able to prevent a major fraud or pension scheme collapse. And it accused the regulator of being “slow” to address major risks to pension scheme members.
OPRA admitted that it could not be sure of preventing another Maxwell case.
An OPRA spokeswoman said: “We accept most of the criticisms and recommendations of the report.
“OPRA is well on the way of moving towards proactive regulation and we are already in the process of developing a more sophisticated risk model to focus more on schemes that are likely to be at risk.”
OPRA is currently working on new guidance for whistle-blowers as well as talking with the department for work and pensions about how any future reformed regulator would work.
The regulator was also accused by the committee for doing “too little” to check the suitability of trustees.
But Tory work and pensions spokesman David Willetts dismissed the committee’s fears and claimed checking the background of trustees would be a waste of time.
Willetts said: “It is not clear that this will be helped by checking on all 240,000 trustees of pension schemes, given that the number of abuses is very small.
“Trustees are mostly volunteers who carry out their duties with great care.
“Any new system must be designed so that they will not be discouraged from serving.”
The report – OPRA: Tackling the Risks to Pension Scheme Members – is available from the Stationery Office.
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