The Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority this week praised chartered accountants for being far more proactive at reporting clients that have breached Pensions Act requirements through negligence. The praise comes despite English ICA reprimands delivered to several firms, including BDO Stoy Hayward and Littlejohn Frazer, which were fined £1,000 and £1,500 respectively. In these cases, clients had not filed audited accounts for their pension schemes within seven months of the year end. This is a criminal offence under the Pensions Act. An OPRA spokesman said: 'It is the auditor's responsibility to tell us whether accounts have been filed within seven months and failure by the clients to do this is a criminal offence. The tardiness of the auditor in some cases means that we have no power to put things right.' A major publicity drive to draw attention to the auditor's responsibility in pensions matters last year had brought a positive response from the profession, he added. OPRA has also been working closely with the English ICA to educate smaller practitioners which has meant that more action is now being taken against trustees. In a separate decision Coopers & Lybrand, now part of PricewaterhouseCoopers, was fined £500 and ordered to pay costs of £700 following a complaint against an auditor's report on the accounts of a company for the period until 26 April. Although it stated that it was in accordance with the Companies Act 1995, the English ICA found 'significant departures from the requirements of FRS3, FRS1 (Revised), SSAP2, FRS8 and SSAP15'.
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