EBSA Enforcement Action Robust in FY 2017

By Ted Godbout • January 31, 2018 • 0 Comments
Total monetary recoveries by the Employee Benefits Security Administration’s (EBSA) enforcement and oversight activity in fiscal year 2017 were up from the previous year, according to an annual fact sheet released by the agency.

The federal government’s fiscal year is Oct. 1-Sept. 30.

In FY 2017, EBSA reports, it recovered $1.1 billion in direct payment to plans, participants and beneficiaries. Of that total, $682.3 million was recovered from investigations and enforcement actions, with nearly half of this number ($326.7 million) attributed to helping terminated vested participants in DB plans collect benefits owed to them.

In FY 2016, the agency had total recoveries of $777.5 million, with $352 million of that due to enforcement actions.

The agency closed 1,707 civil investigations in FY 2017, with 1,114 of those cases (65%) resulting in monetary results for plans or other corrective action. Drilling down further into the data, the agency referred 134 cases for litigation and filed suit in 50 civil cases nationwide in FY 2017. It closed 307 criminal investigations, and reports that its participation in criminal investigations with other law enforcement agencies led to the indictment of 113 individuals. In addition, 79 of the closed criminal investigations led to guilty pleas or convictions, the data shows.

While the agency had a higher level of total monetary recoveries in FY 2017, it closed more civil investigations (1,707 versus 2,002) and criminal investigations (307 versus 333) in FY 2016. On the other hand, the agency indicted more individuals in FY 2017 than in FY 2016 (113 versus 96).

EBSA also notes that in FY 2017 it closed more than 174,000 inquiries and restored $418.7 million in benefits through informal resolution of individual complaints.

In addition, 617 new investigations were opened as a result of referrals from benefits advisors. These inquiries are a major source of enforcement leads and when it becomes aware of repeated complaints or when there is information indicating a suspected fiduciary breach, the matter is referred for investigation.