DoL Accuses North Dakota Firm of Diverting 401(k) Funds

November 26, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) has accused a Bismarck, North Dakota, manufacturer of wastewater treatment systems and equipment and its owners of diverting employee deferrals and loan repayments from its 401(k) plan.

The DoL leveled the accusations against LAS International and its owners in a lawsuit that also included a charge of failing to forward $39,866.18 in delinquent employee and employer contributions.

A DoL news release said the suit alleges that LAS and individual defendants Neil Whittey and Syver Vinje violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) when they failed to forward mandatory employer contributions, employee contributions and loan repayments owed to the plan for 2004 and 2005.  T he defendants are accused of using the assets for their benefit.

Regulators ask in the suit that a judge require the defendants to restore all losses and foregone earnings, and require Whittey and Vinje to waive any rights to their 401(k) accounts to offset any losses owed to the plan.

As of December 2006, the latest data available, the 401(k) plan covered 32 participants and had $144,749 in assets.

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