PFA reports Fund Principal Executive Officer to Registrar
Pretoria: The Pension Funds Adjudicator has taken the Principal Executive Officer of a pension fund to task for undue delay in the payment of a withdrawal benefit.
Muvhango Lukhaimane has referred her determination following an investigation into a complaint to the Registrar of Pension Funds to enquire whether the Officer is a fit and proper person to serve in such a position.
B Ngoveni lodged a against the Municipal Employees Pension Fund (first respondent); Akani Retirement Fund Administrators (Pty) Ltd (second respondent) and City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality (third respondent) following the delay in the payment of a withdrawal benefit after her exit from service.
The complainant was employed with the third respondent from 1 July 2014 to 31 July 2015 when she became entitled to receive a withdrawal benefit in terms of the rules of the first respondent. However, no benefit was paid to the complainant despite submitting claim forms.
The complainant said she had communicated with several employees of the first respondent to no avail.
The second respondent confirmed it had received a complaint from the complainant. The complainant’s file was before the board of management for approval. The second respondent also submitted it could not confirm the actual date of finalisation of the file and it would endeavour to expedite all files before the board.
The third respondent was afforded the opportunity to comment on the allegations made against it as required in terms of section 30F of the Act. However, it failed to file a response.
In her determination, Ms Lukhaimane said the rules of a fund were supreme and binding on its officials, members, shareholders and beneficiaries and anyone so claiming from the fund.
“It is trite law that the employer in a pension fund at the very least owes a duty of good
faith to its employees.
“It is also essential for the employer to complete a withdrawal notification form indicating the cause of the termination of employment. This, in turn, allows the fund to determine which benefit is payable.
“Thus, in the absence a response from the third respondent, this Tribunal concludes that the third respondent failed to comply with its duty of good faith in terms of assisting the complainant to claim her withdrawal benefit within a reasonable period following her exit from service.”
She said the first respondent’s rules were silent with regard to the time period allowed before a benefit was paid to a member.
“The first respondent stated that the claim is awaiting the approval of the board of management. However, this is not a reasonable justification for the delay in making payment to the complainant having regard to the date the claim was submitted.
“That the first respondent’s Principal Executive Officer can sign off responses like this to this Tribunal leads this Tribunal to question her fitness to discharge her duties as Principal Executive Officer.
“For this reason, this Tribunal is referring this determination to the Registrar of Pension Funds with a request that they consider an enquiry into whether the Principal Executive Officer is a fit and proper person to serve as such in terms of the Act.
“This Tribunal concludes that the delay in the payment of the complainant’s withdrawal benefit since the submission thereof is unreasonably long. This is more so in that there is no reasonable justification for the delay.
“Therefore, the appropriate relief is for the first respondent to be ordered to pay the complainant’s withdrawal benefit without any further delay together with interest,” Ms Lukhaimane said.
ABOUT THE PENSION FUNDS ADJUDICATOR
The Office of the Pension Funds Adjudicator (OPFA) is a statutory body established to resolve disputes in a procedurally fair, economical and expeditious manner. The adjudicator's office investigates and determines complaints of abuse of power, maladministration, disputes of fact or law and employer dereliction of duty in respect of pension funds. The OPFA is situated in Pretoria, Gauteng.
For general enquiries or to lodge a complaint visit www.pfa.org.za or call 012 346 1738.
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