Dutch watchdog fines pension fund for 'incomprehensible' statement

NETHERLANDS - Dutch pensions communications watchdog AFM has fined Bikudak - the €224m industry-wide scheme for roofers - for providing an “incomprehensible” uniform pension statement for 2008.

The supervisor said it imposed the €4,687 fine because the scheme had provided its participants with “unclear and incomprehensible” information on their rights.

The AFM said Bikudak had wrongfully combined information regarding a contribution shortfall by the employer with the scale of employment of its workers.

It also failed, according to the regulator, to explain that employees had to prove - and subsequently apply for - their accrued pension benefits, in the event that an employer had not paid the contribution owed by the pension fund.

The AFM said Bikudak had now changed its policy, and that pension claims would now be accepted automatically should the scheme be unable to collect an employer’s contribution.

Although the standard fine in such cases is €500,000, the AFM said it had reduced the amount for Bikudak due its size and in order to limit the impact on participants.

Bikudak said it had accepted the ultimate fine, but only under protest, after having appealed against a previous, larger fine.

It said it would not appeal the latest fine, as “the cost of a new appeal would exceed the actual fine”.

Bikudak, whose administration is carried out by pension provider Cordares, rejected that it had broken any laws and said that any misled participants had the option for compensation.

Bikudak has more than 21,600 participants. Its coverage ratio was 89.8% at November-end.

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