A Birmingham healthcare company has become the first to be successfully prosecuted by The Pensions Regulator for providing misleading information about setting up a staff pension scheme.
Crest Healthcare, which provides home support services, and its managing director Sheila Aluko pleaded guilty to recklessly providing false or misleading information to the regulator about offering staff a workplace pension.
They also admitted wilfully failing to comply with their automatic enrolment duties when they appeared at Brighton Magistrates' Court on March 7.
The case was adjourned for sentencing until 15 May and both charges carry a maximum sentence in a magistrates' court of an unlimited fine.
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) said Ms Aluko submitted a statement of compliance in March 2016 which claimed staff had been written to about the pension scheme and 25 employees had been enrolled onto it.
The regulator said the company had not completed the setting up of a pension scheme, had not automatically enrolled any staff and had not written to them about automatic enrolment as it was legally bound to do.
No pension contributions had been paid, TPR said.
Selly Oak-based Crest Healthcare later began deducting pension contributions from the wages of some workers, the regulator said, but kept them in the company's bank account and did not pay them into a pension scheme for more than eight months.
A whistleblower raised the alarm, prompting TPR to execute a search warrant at Crest Healthcare's offices and interview Ms Aluko under caution.
It was only after this that the pension scheme was set up and the contributions paid in.
Darren Ryder, TPR's director of automatic enrolment, said: "Sheila Aluko tried to conceal her company's non-compliance by hiding behind false information and misleading her staff that their pensions were up and running.
"It was only after we intervened the employer finally complied with its duties and provided its staff with the workplace pensions they were entitled to.
"While the majority of employers are doing the right thing, this case sends a clear message it is unacceptable to dodge your pension responsibilities and we will take action against those who try to."