June 15, 2012

DOL Enforcement Roundup: Two Accused of Misusing Pension Funds

Labor Department recently brought actions related to breach of fiduciary duty

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The Department of Labor (DOL) recently brought two actions related to breach of fiduciary duty.

The first was an action against the co-founder and director of a now-defunct investment management company has resulted in a default judgment and order for restitution, as well as other penalties.

Steven Salutric, cofounder and director of Elmhurst, Illinois-based Results One Financial LLC, was ordered to restore $1,211,902.25 to four pension plan client accounts from which he allegedly withdrew funds from 2005 through 2009 in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

Results One Financial was a registered investment advisory company that provided services to a broad range of clients that included ERISA-covered employee benefit plans. Salutric was accused of misdirecting the assets of client plans to entities in which he had an interest. Those entities included a film distribution company, a restaurant and a real estate partnership, as well as a church where he served as treasurer.

“It is particularly egregious when those entrusted with protecting workers’ retirement assets jeopardize them by committing illegal acts for personal gain,” said Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis in a statement.

In this case, an investigation by Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration, in coordination with the Chicago Regional Office of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, resulted in a lawsuit filed in federal district court in Chicago.

The resulting court order requires Salutric to restore all losses, including lost opportunity costs, to the four pension plan clients and to correct the prohibited transactions involved. The judgment also bars Salutric from serving as a fiduciary or service provider to any employee benefit plan governed by ERISA in the future.

Advisor Accused of Misusing More Than $3.2 Million of Retirement Plan Funds for Ski/Golf Resort

On Wednesday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho granted the DOL's motion for preliminary injunction against Matthew D. Hutcheson and Hutcheson Walker Advisors LLC. The court found that the department had “demonstrated the type of immediate and irreparable injury necessitating entry of a preliminary injunction.”  

On May 15, the department filed a complaint in the same court against Hutcheson and others alleging that Hutcheson had violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. The complaint alleged that, toward the end of 2010, Hutcheson used more than $3.2 million in retirement plan savings of workers from multiple employers for his own personal benefit and in an attempt to purchase an interest in the Tamarack Resort, a failed ski and golf resort in Idaho.

According to DOL, Hutcheson’s alleged misconduct has left the affected retirement plans without sufficient funds to pay participants all the benefits owed to them. Hutcheson also faces a separate criminal indictment, filed by the U.S. Department of Justice in the same court on April 10, in connection with the same transaction and others.

Concurrent with its civil complaint, the department says it filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, seeking removal of Hutcheson and Hutcheson Walker Advisors as fiduciaries of the Retirement Security Plan and Trust, formerly known as the Pension Liquidity Plan and Trust.

The secretary of labor also requested the appointment of Jeanne B. Bryant of Receivership Management as independent fiduciary to the Retirement Security Plan and Trust and the plans. On May 16 the court granted the secretary’s motion for a temporary restraining order and took the motion for preliminary injunction under advisement. Wednesday’s order is the court’s granting of the injunctive relief sought by the department. 

In addition to Hutcheson and Hutcheson Walker Advisors, defendants in the secretary’s action include Green Valley Holdings LLC and the Retirement Security Plan and Trust.

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