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, 58, was tried in his absence at Brighton Magistrates’ Court last week (26 November) in a case brought by TPR over allegations he failed to comply with two notices issued under section 72 of the Pensions Act 2004.
Bootes, who had previously entered a not guilty plea, said he could not attend court as he was considered persona non grata in the UK.
He 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 auto-enrolment pension contributions paid by his companies.
But the funds had been taken out of their salaries.
The notices, issued in June and September 2018, required Bootes to share information with TPR about his companies.
Although Bootes claimed to have provided the information it was never received by TPR, and it was claimed to have been sent a year after it was due.
Bootes was found guilty of two charges of neglecting or refusing to provide information and documents, without reasonable excuse.
He 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.
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.”
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