Cook Islands Superannuation Fund Could Use Reserves To Repay Migrant Workers

466 former employees forfeited employer contributions when leaving country

By Rashneel Kumar 

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Feb. 9, 2017) – The Cook Islands National Superannuation Fund (CINSF) says it has about $800,000 [US$584,000] in its reserve account to immediately refund the employer contributions previously forfeited by migrant workers leaving the country at the end of their contracts.

CINSF had identified 466 former members with forfeited employer contributions amounting to $1.2 million [US$876,000] since the inception of the Fund in 2001.

Responding to the queries from the CI News about how it will source the pay-offs, fund chief executive officer Damien Beddoes said they had contingency plans in place to refund the migrant workers.

He also quashed claims made by a source that CINSF is hundreds of thousands of dollars short of meeting fund required to pay the migrant workers.

“Over the history of the CINSF, when foreign workers left, and they chose to take a cash withdrawal, their employer contributions were forfeited to the fund’s reserve account,” Beddoes said.

“Over the years when these funds exceeded the reserve account limit, the funds were credited to all remaining members as part of the annual investment return, so all members have benefited from those funds.

“As per our public annual report, we currently hold just over $800,000 in reserves, so in the first instance this will be used to fund the claims.”

Beddoes said funds to pay the remaining balance were still to be finalised by the board and trustee.

But he said they do have a number of options and the ability to make the payment.

CINSF finalised the terms for refunding employer contributions previously forfeited by migrant workers following a decision handed down from the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC).

The fund has identified five different steps in the process to identify and authenticate personal information and bank account details, in order to approve payments to former members that have migrated from the Cook Islands.

A migrant worker eligible for refund will have to first complete the forfeited funds claim form and then provide a certified copy of their original passport.

They then have to provide a certified utility bill or account that verifies their current residential, state, and country address followed by certified bank statement to confirm their details of the account the funds are to be paid to.

The estimated timeline from receipt of all completed documentation by the CINSF office to the calculation and application of interest and final payment to the claimers account is eight to 10 weeks.

This, however, will depend on the volume of claims being processed.

CINSF retains the right to withhold payment if any information submitted for a claim is not provided or verified, or is found to be fraudulent.

“In this event, further requirements will be made by the CINSF before the claim is reconsidered.

“If you are a family member or legal representative of a deceased former member and you believe a payment may be due, please contact the CINSF office directly.”

Full details and application forms for former CINSF members eligible for a refund are available on the website

Cook Islands News
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