Bosses who are reckless with their employees’ pensions could be jailed for up to seven years, Amber Rudd has warned.
The pensions secretary said “wilful or reckless behaviour” relating to a pension scheme will become a criminal offence and could lead to an unlimited fine.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, she warned those judged to be guilty of such a crime: “We’re coming for you.”
Ms Rudd said: “To curb these freelancers playing fast and loose with your cash, I am going to make ‘wilful or reckless behaviour’ relating to a pension scheme a criminal offence, with jail terms of up to seven years for the worst offenders.
“We’ll also give the courts powers to levy unlimited – yes unlimited – fines.
“So if you run your company pension into the ground, saddling it with massive, unsustainable debts, we’re coming for you.
“If you gamble your employees’ futures on risky investments that put a pension scheme at risk, we’re coming for you.
“And if you chronically mismanage a pension scheme and it goes under, we’re coming for you.”
The Government launched a consultation last summer as part of moves to beef up the powers of The Pensions Regulator (TPR), enabling it to step in more quickly and more often when companies make changes which could damage the pension scheme.
Ms Rudd’s pledge follows the BHS pensions scandal.
A year after it was sold by Sir Philip Green for £1 in 2015, the retailer collapsed into administration, leaving a £571 million pension deficit.
Sir Philip later agreed to pay £363 million towards it to end action against him by the Pensions Regulator.