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Missing Pension Money Sparks Calls for Probe

The largest trade union in the U.K. and Ireland has called for an investigation into pensions payments that went missing before Carillion collapsed.

  • By Joe McGrath

Thousands of pension contributions made by workers at Carillion allegedly disappeared in the lead up to the company’s collapse, according to the trade union Unite.

“We need to know what has happened to these payments, possibly involving more than a million pounds,” Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, Unite’s national officer for health, said in a statement Thursday. “They appear to have mysteriously disappeared into the financial abyss.”

Unite has called for an investigation into the allegedly missing contributions, saying they were made by Carillion employees working under contract for the National Health Service and other public-sector roles. Pension payments made in December were never received by the statutory pension schemes, according to the trade union.

Jarrett-Thorpe said Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union, has been calling on the U.K.’s Insolvency Service to investigate what has happened but claims these efforts “hit a brick wall.” A spokesman for the Insolvency Service said it will be reviewing the actions of the company in the lead up to its liquidation in January, including its treatment of pensions contributions.

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“Unpaid pension contributions in a liquidation can be claimed by pension trustees from the Redundancy Payments Service within certain legal limits,” the spokesman said.

Unite said it has workers in the NHS, the Prison Service, the Ministry of Defence and local government which may be potentially affected by the missing contributions.

Carillion was forced into liquidation in January after insolvency specialists said it had too much debt to warrant restructuring. That left nearly 28,000 members of its defined benefit pension schemes seeking answers about their future benefits.

British politicians are investigating whether collapsed construction giant Carillion’s directors emphasized shareholder dividends over repairing the company’s pensions deficit.

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