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Gambian ambassador found guilty of withholding pensions information

Ref: PN21-31

Issued: Friday 26 November 2021

An ambassador has been ordered to pay more than £80,000 after being found guilty of withholding information from The Pensions Regulator (TPR).

Vincent Bootes was tried in his absence at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on Friday (26 November) in a prosecution brought by TPR over allegations he failed to comply with two notices issued under section 72 of the Pensions Act 2004.

The 58-year-old, who had previously entered a not guilty plea, claimed he could not attend court as he was considered persona non grata in the UK. Mr Bootes had also renounced his British citizenship to take a position as an ambassador for The Republic of Gambia in West Africa.

The two notices had been issued as part of a TPR investigation into whistleblowers’ allegations that staff working for him at PGT Ceewrite Engineering, had not had automatic enrolment workplace pension contributions paid by his companies, despite the cash being deducted from their pay-packets.

The notices, which required Mr Bootes to give TPR information about his companies were issued to him at his Hampshire address on 1 June 2018 and 12 September 2018.

Although Mr Bootes claimed to have provided the information it was never received by TPR and, in any event, it was only purported to have been sent a year after it was due.

Finding Mr Bootes guilty of both offences in the one-day trial, Judge Szagun said: “In terms of culpability I find given the continuing history of lack of compliance, it’s clear to me his intention is at the highest level of avoidance and manipulation and this places his culpability in the highest category of intent.”

Mr Bootes was ordered to pay more than £82,970, made up of £30,000 fines for each of the two offences, £22,800 in costs and a £170 surcharge.

Notes to editors

  1. Bootes was found guilty of two charges of neglecting or refusing to provide information and documents, without reasonable excuse, when required to do under section 72 of the Pension Act 2004 contrary to section 77(1) of that Act.
  2. TPR has the power under section 72 of the Pensions Act 2004 to require pension schemes, employers and third parties to provide us with information and documents relevant to our functions.
  3. The Pensions Regulator is the regulator of work-based pension schemes in the UK. Our statutory objectives are: to protect members’ benefits; to reduce the risk of calls on the Pension Protection Fund (PPF); to promote, and to improve understanding of, the good administration of work-based pension schemes; to maximise employer compliance with automatic enrolment duties; and to minimise any adverse impact on the sustainable growth of an employer (in relation to the exercise of the regulator’s functions under Part 3 of the Pensions Act 2004 only).

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