CAN I ask for help to assist me in understanding the pensions law which is applicable in this country?

The rot appears to have started when the owner of the Mirror Group of Newspapers, one Bob Maxwell, plundered his companies' pension funds.

Since then, we have had high-profile cases among which are British Home Stores and and now Carillion.

In my simplistic view, there is a contact between the employer and the employee whereby the company pays into a pension fund for the employee who can then take their entitlement upon retirement.

There is also a usual provision for the employee to make additional contributions in order to enhance their retirement benefits.

It is clear that the pension fund needs to be held in separate accounts in order to differentiate it from other company funds.

It is clear that £X is paid into the pension account and that those funds are not the company's money any longer, but are then held in trust for the employees.

Under no circumstances should those funds ever be viewed again as funds to be available to the company in its day-to-day trading activities.

What I am failing to understand is how shortfalls occur.

If £X is due, £X should be paid in.

My concerns are that the directors of the companies continue to pay themselves mega wages and bonuses to the detriment of the pension fund.

Surely the pension fund should receive its contributions from the finance department after all due taxes have been paid and before any other debts are looked at.

Again, in my view, any money not paid into the pension scheme or used to defer other debts can be considered to have been misappropriated or indeed stolen from the future recipients of the pension.

For Carillion's directors to think that paying themselves huge bonuses while running the company and its pension scheme into the ground is justifiable beggars belief.

May the full weight of the criminal law be brought to bear upon anyone found to have abused pension funds.

Ian Holland