Coillte trustees sue over unpaid €23m to pension scheme

Judge says deficit affects up to 2,000 pensioners

Mr Justice Peter Kelly:  said it was second such case  in last two weeks and it seemed  trend was developing

Mr Justice Peter Kelly: said it was second such case in last two weeks and it seemed trend was developing

Tue, Jul 23, 2013, 00:00

State forestry body Coillte is being sued over a €23 million deficit in its pension scheme affecting some 2,000 pensioners. Coillte has told the scheme trustees it was unable to make agreed payments into the scheme because those were contingent on State approval for the sale of immature forests which had not been forthcoming.

In agreeing yesterday to fast-track the case in the Commercial Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly said this was the second such case before the court in the last two weeks and it seemed a trend was developing.

Making directions aimed at having a trial next January, the judge said he was told about 2,000 people were affected by the shortfall. He did not want them enduring any more anxiety than they had to.

In the action, the trustees of the Coillte Teoranta superannuation scheme, represented by Brian O’Moore SC, are seeking judgment for some €23 million against Coillte in an effort to make up the deficit.

They claim the money is owed on foot of its obligations under a trust deed dated 2000 and a December 2009 funding proposal for the scheme. That proposal, approved by the Pensions Board, was entered into arising from the scheme being in deficit in 2009.

The trustees claim the funding proposals required that some €34.5 million in cash and assets would be contributed up front. They claim Coillte complied with some aspects, including paying €3 million cash in 2009 and €1.5 million each year from 2009, but had to date only transferred €7 million of the €30 million cash assets it was to transfer.

Coillte had previously indicated the transfer of the remaining €23 million was contingent on the sale of immature forests which required State approval, the trustees said.

They said they had written to Coillte a number of times about the matter and, at all times, it had been indicated that Coillte intended to comply with its obligations but that had not happened.