The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has issued 937 requests for information under section 72 of the Pensions Act 2004 since its records began in 2010.
In a Freedom of Information Request (FoI) response published last month, the watchdog revealed the highest number of requests in a year was in 2016, when they amounted to 158, and the lowest was in 2010, during which 12 were issued. So far this year, TPR has issued 51 section 72 requests.
The regulator has the power under the act to require recipients of a section 72 notice to provide it with information and documents relevant to its statutory functions. Failure to provide such information, without a reasonable excuse, is a criminal offence that can result in an unlimited fine.
The same FoI request revealed that there had been just eight occasions between 2010 and 2019 when the regulator has taken enforcement action when a recipient had failed to provide information – four instances were in 2017, and four in 2018.
However, the regulator was unable to provide information on types of enforcement action; requests for deadline extensions; time taken by recipients to respond; and the value of fines imposed.
The regulator said: “Section 72 of the Pensions Act 2004 is an information-gathering power and is dealt with under a case-by-case basis. So, though the details of any extensions or responses would be recorded on the individual case, we did not record this information as statistics.”
It also said that any fines that are issued would be imposed by the courts and, as a result it did not hold the statistics for the number or value of these fines that were requested.
Examples of failings to comply with TPR requests for information include former BHS owner Dominic Chappell, who lost the appeal against his section 72 conviction last year, and was ordered to pay £124,000, including court costs.