The Retirement Benefits Appeal Tribunal has finally settled a legal tussle between the Laptrust pension scheme administrator and the Retirement Benefits Authority (RBA).
The order by the tribunal is a blow to RBA, which had declined to renew the pension scheme administrator’s licence and at the same time declined to register CPF Financial Services Limited, which was to administer the scheme for county employees valued at over Sh24 billion.
“It is now a well-established principle that the governance of a regulated sector in the economy ought to be done in a manner that is efficient, fair, competitive, accountable and transparent in order for action that inspires public confidence in the procedure to be taken or adopted,” the tribunal led by Kakai Cheloti ruled.
“We are of the considered view that the respondent should act within the timelines set by the law and not disregard the same.”
CPF had been operating in the country under Laptrust Administration Limited but changed its name last year. After the change, RBA omitted it from the list of registered pension scheme administrators and cancelled its licence. This led to two cases, one before the High Court and another at the tribunal.
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“We have duly considered the issue and hold that while the matter of deregistration of the appellant (CPF) is pending in the High Court and the order of September 12, 2015 aforesaid is not stayed, varied or set aside, the respondent is, bound to publish in the manner provided the appellant as an administrator of retirement benefits schemes in Kenya,” the ruling read in part.
In the case, the pension scheme administrator argued that the case in the High Court did not stop RBA from considering its application to have its certificate of registration renewed.
CPF also argued that the regulator was biased for failing to consider its application within the 90 days set by the law. The tribunal was told that the decision by RBA was biased and ill-conceived.
The ruling continued, “In our view, there is prejudice for both the appellant and the respondent.
For the appellant, it is viewed with suspicion by the persons it associates with as administrator when it does not appear in the respondent’s published or advertised list of administrators.”
“For the respondent, there is doubt on its ability to protect public interest when the appellant is carrying on business as administrator without appearing in the published or advertised list of administrators who have a current certificate of registration.
This state of affairs is unhealthy for the necessary cordial relations of a regulator and a regulated entity.”
In response, RBA told the tribunal that CPF did not have a valid certificate of registration for 2014 and therefore it (RBA) could not renew the same in 2015. But the tribunal ruled that the reason given by RBA was not strong enough to stop it from considering CPF’s application to have its certificate.