BREAKING NEWS: Francis cleared of pensions fraud

The police investigation into Francis Catering Equipment’s pensions has ceased.

Former distributor, Francis Catering Equipment, has been cleared of pensions fraud following a police probe.

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A West Midlands Police spokesperson confirmed to Catering Insight: “Following an investigation into an allegation of fraud, the case has been filed with no further action.”

The investigation was carried out after an allegation was reported to ActionFraud, the UK’s national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, who passed the details to West Midlands Police.

Catering Insight has reached out to Neil Francis, former MD of Francis Catering Equipment, for comment.

Prior to the police involvement, FRP Advisory, the administrator involved in the liquidation of Francis Catering Equipment and its subsequent asset sale to Unitech Industries, was itself investigating pensions irregularities surrounding the former company’s employee pension scheme.

FRP Advisory detailed that it was working to establish the value of an apparent pension deficit, which could see former employees issue claims for outstanding amounts.

Steve Stokes, partner at FRP Advisory and joint liquidator of Francis Catering Equipment and its associated company, Specialised Stainless Products, said at the time: “We are aware of an issue relating to employee pension contributions prior to the insolvencies of Francis Catering Equipment and Specialised Stainless Products, and have written to those employees affected seeking confirmation of pension deductions from their salaries.

“Once we have confirmed the value of deductions, this information will be passed to the Redundancy Payments Service. As part of the insolvency process, we will also consider any residual claims of the former employees.”

Francis’ Humphries commented at that stage that he was aware of the situation and acknowledged that there are pension issues relating to the old company that are currently in the process of being resolved.

“These stem from administrative confusion between ourselves and our external payroll providers around the staging date for auto enrolment,” he explained. “We accept our part in this scenario and have therefore been working for a number of months with the administrators for the business, FRP Advisory, to ensure that they have all of the relevant information. They are now working on behalf of all past and present employees and directors to obtain the best possible outcome for all.”

Humphries subsequently left Francis Commercial Kitchen Services, the new entity formed by Unitech Industries’ purchase of the Midlands-based distributor’s assets in October 2017.

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3 Comments

  1. Former employee said:

    I think I can speak for all former employees concerned, and say that if this is true it is a disgusting and ludicrous decision. The administrator has just confirmed to me that we can only claim the last 12 months of contributions in full, and a small percentage of the previous 9 months (since pension commencement date). How on earth is it possible for no-one to be held culpable for effectively stealing money from people’s salaries? This is NOT over!

  2. Ex employee said:

    I agree, they should be speaking to former employees who have e-mail evidence that the pensions regulator had made 3 separate calls to the office and each time emailed to Neil Humphries! To not see one possible but to miss 3 emails never!

    He took our money knowing this wasn’t being paid into a pension and now told we are only getting 12 months back! He knew the accountants were not dealing with our pension payments, the whole situation stinks and like the above will make sure this is looked at again.

  3. Disappointed beyond belief said:

    I believe all ex and current employees need to join together and persue them in civil court.The administrators are also useless and only seem to be on the side of the dodgy dealers. Take tens of thousands of pounds from employees and face no punishment, joke!

    Well done Neil, there may not be enough evidence to prove the intent was there for the police to persue but don’t get comfy just yet eh.

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