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Ombudsman names firm over failure to pay out after ruling

THE Pensions Ombudsman has taken the unprecedented step of naming a company and its directors after they failed to abide by his ruling that they should pay the family of a dead worker a death-in-service benefit.

Paul Kenny also called on gardai to investigate Dublin construction company Radalko and its directors Eamon O'Riordan and Tim O'Riordan -- a move which prompted the money to be handed over.

The parents of the dead worker took a case to the ombudsman, alleging that Radalko had failed to register their son in the Construction Workers' Pensions Scheme, as is a legal requirement in the building industry.

The failure to register meant that their son's family could not get a death-in-service benefit of €63,500.

In a digest of cases he has handled, Mr Kenny said: "There was considerable dispute over which of three separate but variously interconnected companies was the employer of the deceased member."

After much claim and counter claim, Mr Kenny decided that Radalko was the employer.

"It also became clear that that company had attempted to register the deceased member in the scheme some 16 weeks after his death," Mr Kenny wrote.

Radalko was ordered to pay out €63,500, but it appealed the ruling to the High Court. Eventually, a smaller amount of compensation was agreed, but the company's cheque bounced.

Mr Kenny then called in the gardai and a bank draft for €63,500 was then quickly dispatched to the dead man's family by Radalko.

The Ombudsman said in his annual report that he had taken the unusual step of naming Radalko and its directors because the case involved not just "investigative difficulties for my office but was then compounded by serious malpractice following the issue of my final determination".

Mr Kenny also warned those with pensions to check and double-check that their details are correct on benefit statements.

One statement had the wrong date of birth on it for four successive years, which meant the wrong benefits were calculated for the member.

Meanwhile, Mr Kenny's office secured a successful prosecution in the Dublin District Court on Monday of a director of a Dublin-based aluminium replacement-windows company who refused to cooperate in the investigation of a complaint.

Anthony Kerr, a director of Kerr Aluminium Ltd, was fined €3,000 for his failure to respond or produce documentation to the Pensions Ombudsman during the course of an investigation.

Mr Kerr had been advised on several occasions that he left himself open to prosecution if he failed to engage in the process.

Mr Kenny said: "This should have been a relatively straightforward investigation, had Mr Kerr cooperated.

"However, he chose not to (do so), which left me with no option but to initiate proceedings."

Irish Independent