Home Money Help: it took my former employer at a high-tech company 15 months to transfer my pension! TONY HETHERINGTON responds

Help: it took my former employer at a high-tech company 15 months to transfer my pension! TONY HETHERINGTON responds

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CASH BLOCK: Student of digital experts kept pension money

Tony Hetherington is the Financial Mail on Sunday’s star investigator, battling readers’ corners, revealing the truth behind closed doors and winning victories for those left penniless. Find out how to contact him below.

TW writes: I am requesting your help to investigate a business called Pupil. After leaving the company in 2023, I looked to move my pension savings into my new employer’s plan. However, People’s Partnership, the pension scheme used by Pupil, informed me that Pupil had not transferred the contributions deducted from my salary. I have since discovered that other employees and former employees are in the same boat.

Tony Heatherington replies: Pupil is not an isolated company. It is an international high-tech company, formally registered as Digital Reality Corp Limited, that provides highly detailed computer images of buildings. Among its financial backers is the Duke of Westminster’s Grosvenor Estates, whose officials confirmed this but added that “we have no involvement in the day-to-day activities of the business.”

CASH BLOCK: Student of digital experts kept pension money

So what went so wrong that you were able to give me a whole series of payslips showing monthly pension contributions worth hundreds of pounds, but the pension company received nothing?

People’s Partnership told him: “By law, when employers take pension contributions out of your wages, your employer must pay them to your pension provider by the 22nd of the following month.” But this did not happen. And a member of Pupil’s human resources department told him last September: “I understand that pension contributions will be settled this month.”

But this didn’t happen either. By the time he contacted me, things had gotten worse. The pension company told me it had reported Pupil to the pensions regulator. He added: “We have also contacted the employer concerned directly to take appropriate steps to ensure that his obligations are met.”

It took a while to get a reaction from Pupil. He finally told me, ‘We’re happy to report that we got new funding last week; In this way, the company will be in a position to update its financial commitments.’

The only conclusion I could draw was that Pupil was so short of funds that it lived at least partly off the pension contributions of its own employees. Money that was not Pupil’s to spend. There was also the matter of the commission payments he expected to receive after winning business for Pupil.

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I pressed Pupil and he explained that when an employee leaves the company, outstanding commission payments are made “one month after the month of departure.” He added: “The customer’s payment arrived after the period of one month.”

In fact, staff can get business for Pupil, but there is no guarantee that their commission will be paid. This is in the hands of Pupil’s new client. If Pupil is not paid on time, the employee may lose any commission, meaning Pupil keeps the extra money. This is so unfair. Was it really true? Yes, Pupil said, that is our policy.

Regarding pension contributions, Pupil made an initial payment to the Popular Association. He asked me for time to pay the full amount before The Mail on Sunday published this, and a week ago the pension company told me: “We have worked very closely with the company concerned to resolve the issue.”

But some of their missing contributions date back to January of last year, so it has taken about 15 months for that money to be delivered.

Having to go to his sponsors to find the cash he “borrowed” from his own employees without their knowledge says a lot about Pupil’s self-image. It is not a pleasant sight.

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Newspaper watchdog the Independent Press Standards Organization has rejected a complaint made against The Mail on Sunday by Ben Revell, the boss of a series of failed wine selling companies, all operating under the name Winebuyers.

Last September, I reported that after crashing twice, Winebuyers, “like the third installment in a sleazy zombie franchise, has returned from the dead.” Revell’s first such company was Winebuyers Limited, which collapsed in 2021 with debts the liquidator said were in excess of £1.5m. The winebuyers.com website was taken over by Revell’s next company, Winebuyers Group Limited, which went bankrupt in July last year.

Revell, 35, from Harlow, Essex, bought the website name from the remains of his second company, using a new company registered in the Seychelles. The offshore company was said to be owned by British company Elysian Ventures, but Companies House records revealed that both were controlled by Revell.

To outsiders, winebuyers.com continued marketing wines as if nothing had happened, taking orders from the public and passing them on to the wine merchants whose products the website promoted. Merchants were the big losers when companies went bankrupt, but ordinary customers also reported paying in advance for wines that never arrived.

If you believe you are a victim of financial irregularity, please write to Tony Hetherington at Financial Mail, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY or email tony.hetherington@mailonsunday.co.uk. Due to the large volume of inquiries, it is not possible to provide personal responses. Please only send copies of the original documents, which we regret cannot be returned.

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