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Tonbridge businessman fined following pension fraud investigation in East Sussex

A former sports centre director was fined following a pension fraud investigation.

Lee Bartholomew, from Lockside, in Tonbridge, was ordered to pay £15,000 for withholding information legally required in a probe by The Pensions Regulator (TPR).

It follows an investigation by The Pensions Regulator. Stock picture
It follows an investigation by The Pensions Regulator. Stock picture

Investigators asked the 45-year-old to provide them with the documents on June 10, 2020, following allegations of fraudulent evasion relating to employee pension contributions.

He intentionally failed to do so in time with no reasonable excuse, Lewes Crown Court was told at a hearing on April 26.

The former director of 1066 Target Sports Ltd, in East Sussex, pleaded guilty to suppressing the documents and was fined £7,500 and ordered to pay costs of £7,500 at a second court appearance on Friday (May 31).

During the ruling, Judge Mooney said: “You decided to suppress, i.e. deliberately not provide, documentation you should have done because you knew to do so would alert the regulator that you were not paying money where you should have done.

“This caused a degree of distress to the people affected, as the money they thought was going into their pensions did not. It caused them real concern.”

He added he could not know where the money went during that time due to the lack of documents.

He appeared at Lewes Crown Court. Stock picture
He appeared at Lewes Crown Court. Stock picture

Following the guilty plea, the TPR is not prosecuting Mr Bartholomew for fraudulent evasion of his duty to pay money deducted from the salaries of his employees as pension contributions into a workplace pension scheme.

Head of automatic enrolment compliance and enforcement at TPR, Joe Turner, added: “This case sends a clear warning that we do not hesitate to prosecute companies or individuals if they refuse to give us the right information when requested and/or try to frustrate our aim to protect pension savers.

“We attempted to use our civil powers to put things right in this case, but this was ignored.

“Anyone refusing to comply with our requests for information without good reason should take note that they could find themselves in court and with a criminal conviction.”

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