IRELAND - The Pensions Board said it had successfully prosecuted Pepsi Cola Trading Ireland and two other companies for failing to comply with requests for information on their pension obligations.

Last year the regulator warned companies that they could face fines or prison sentences if they fail to comply with pensions legislation covering Personal Retirement Savings Accounts.

The Pensions Board, the body set up to regulate occupational pension schemes and advise the government on pension policy, said that the district court has ordered the payment of €4,800 in costs plus VAT.

The costs are to be split evenly between the Cork-based Alternative Bread Company and Lally Coach Hire Ltd. of County Galway. The court also imposed a €250 fine on Alternative Bread, while Lally Coach Hire must pay €750.

Pepsi Cola Trading Ireland was given a letter of sanction, a measure generally applied in case of mitigating circumstances.

A spokesperson for Pepsi told IPE: “ We pleaded guilty to failing to respond to a letter from the Pensions Board. We failed to reply to the letter as a result of an administrative error.”

The spokesperson also said: “We have now replied to the letter and put measures in place to ensure it doesn't happen again. The Company is fully compliant with the pensions legislation.”

According to the Pensions Board the three companies “failed to comply with the Pensions Board’s request, made by notice in writing to furnish the Pensions Board with information within the time limit specified”.

The background of the prosecution is the deadline of September 2003, by which time all employers were required to have entered a contract with a Personal Retirement Savings Account (PRSA) provider to allow access to at least one Standard PRSA.

PRSA should have benefited “excluded employees”, including those whose employer who does not offer an occupational pension scheme.

Pensions Board chief executive Anne Maher said: “This requirement is a key component in the drive to increase private pension coverage in Ireland.”

“The Board has a responsibility to enforce this mandatory access requirement and regards non-compliance as a serious matter.”

The District court has also adjourned the prosecution hearing brought by the Pensions Board against Superwash Launderette Ltd. until 10 October 2005.