Court stops Rössing's unfair distribution of pension surplus

01 Jun 2016 14:50pm
WINDHOEK, 01 JUN (NAMPA) - The High Court on Wednesday ordered Rössing Uranium Mine to stop the unfair distribution of fund pension surplus along the lines of an apportionment formula approved by the Rössing Pension Fund's Trustees in April 2012.
The court ruling, as requested by former pension fund members, has also set aside a change in pension fund rules, making it possible for the Rössing Pension Fund to distribute an actuarial pension surplus of about N.dollars 450 million to current and erstwhile members of the fund and to Rössing Uranium in a fair manner for the benefit of all.
High Court Judge Shafimana Ueitele ordered Rössing Uranium Mine to stop the unfair distribution of the pension fund surplus in a judgement handed down in the High Court here on Wednesday morning.
The ruling, delivered by High Court Judge Shafimana Ueitel, came at the end of a protracted legal battle between Rössing Uranium Mine and 75 former workers over the unfair distribution of pension fund surplus.
As per court's ruling, the former members of the Rössing Uranium Pension Fund, who were the applicant in the case, will now favourably and fairly benefit from a distribution of a pension surplus of about N.dollars 450 million, which is currently available in the mining company's pension fund.
“The Trustees of the Rössing Pension Fund's decision to distribute surplus funds in the Rössing Pension Fund according to the following formula of allocation of 15 per cent to the former members of the Fund through a cash distribution in a fashion to be determined by the Trustees; a formula of allocation of 33 per cent to the company through a three-year contribution holiday and a formula of allocation of 52 per cent to the active members through a three-year contribution holiday and a once off defined contribution to their pension account is all, hereby, set aside.
“The decision to allocate 52 per cent to active members and pensioners; a decision to allocate 33 per cent to the company and a decision to allocate 15 per cent to the former members is unlawful and a nullity,” reads the court's ruling.
In addition, the Rössing Uranium Mine (first respondent) and Rössing Pension Fund (second respondent) were ordered to jointly pay the applicant's legal costs of this successful application.
Such applicant's legal costs include the cost of one instructing and two instructed legal counsels, said the Judge.
The ex-fund members' successful application was against the Rössing Pension Fund, Rössing Uranium, Registrar of Pension Funds and Ministry of Finance.
Senior Counsel Andrew Corbett and At Slabber, who represented Rössing Uranium Mine and Rössing Pension Fund, wanted the court to dismiss the former workers' application.
Norman Arendse assisted by Werner Boesak represented the former members of the Rössing Pension Fund.
A total of about 75 former members of the Rössing Pension Fund were applicants in this case.
However, about 10 000 former members of the fund would be affected by this ruling.
Meanwhile, lawyers of Rössing Uranium Mine and its Pension Fund did not indicate on Wednesday whether the mining company will lodge an appeal against the High Court ruling.
Shareholding in Rössing Uranium Mine is divided into 69 per cent to the Rio Tinto Group, 15 per cent to the Government of Iran, 3 per cent to the Government of Namibia and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) of South Africa owns 10 per cent. The Government of Namibia however has 51 per cent (majority) voting rights.
(NAMPA)
SKE/CT/LI