Company bosses who "line their own pockets" while failing to ensure that workers' pension schemes are fully funded could face huge fines, Theresa May has said.
The proposals are part of a crackdown on irresponsible business chiefs in the wake of a scandal around the collapse of construction and infrastructure giant Carillion.
Mrs May plans to give the pensions regulator specific powers to issue punitive fines in cases of clear wrongdoing, according to The Observer.
The prime minister said "tough new rules" will be introduced to tackle the behaviour of "executives who try to line their own pockets by putting their workers' pensions at risk - an unacceptable abuse that we will end", she told the newspaper.
She added: "Too often we've seen top executives reaping big bonuses for recklessly putting short-term profit ahead of long-term success. Our best businesses know that is not a responsible way to run a business and those who do so will be forced to explain themselves."
It emerged that Carillion has a huge black hole in its pensions budget - but the failing company continued to pay several former executives significant pay and perks packages even as the firm slid towards administration.
The firm is the latest major firm to fail leaving large shortfalls in pension provision.
Mrs May's call to action comes after she was accused by a Conservative former minister of timidity and a lack of ambition.
In a tweet, Nick Boles warned the prime minister it was "time to raise your game" and claimed her government "constantly disappoints".