IRELAND - The Irish Pensions Board has warned trustees they will be committing a criminal offence if they fail to appoint a registered administrator to perform "core administration functions" before November 1 2008.

In a briefing note on the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2008, the Pensions Board has highlighted the legal requirements for trustees of occupational pension schemes or trust-based Retirement Annuity Contracts (RAC) in appointing a registered administrator.

The change means anyone currently preparing the annual report and annual benefit statements of a pension scheme or large RAC must register with the Pensions Board by November 1 2008, or they could be prosecuted on an indictment and fined up to €25,000 and/or face two years in prison.

In addition, registered administrators - which can also be trustees - will be required to maintain "sufficient and accurate" records of members and their entitlements, and also provide the Pensions Board with specific Eurostat information - including scheme type, fund value and membership - otherwise they could be sanctioned by the Board and their annual registration revoked or refused.

Guidance relating to registered administrators also confirmed multi-national companies which use overseas administrators to carry out services for Irish pension schemes will also be required to register with the Board and must provide an Irish address for the delivery of notices and proceedings, although the business can continue to be operated overseas.

However, it noted any failure by the overseas administrators to complete the duties of a registered administrator will be deemed to have been committed in Ireland and so would be liable to criminal prosecution or sanctions.

The decision to begin regulating third-party administrators followed the publication of the "Report of The Pensions Board to The Minister for Social and Family Affairs on Trusteeship", in which the Pensions Board suggested a lack of regulation had resulted in "poor standards" of administration. (See earlier IPE story: Ireland to regulate 'poor' pensions admin)

The briefing note also detailed the changes to trustee training, which requires employers to organise training for scheme trustees within six months of their appointment and at least every two years after, and a breach of the requirements could lead to prosecution and/or on-the-spot fines.

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