Plan Sponsors Must Notify PBGC of Crippling Madoff Losses

February 6, 2009 ( - In light of the widespread pension investment losses linked to the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, the nation's private-sector pension insurer has reminded single-employer defined benefit sponsors of their responsibility to formally notify the agency if any such losses render them unable to pay their accrued benefits.

The reminder from the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC)came in a notice released Friday calling to the attention of the single-employer sponsors that Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) Section 4043 dictates the official notification on Form 10.

The PBGC notice is to be filed within 30 days of the sponsor’s discovery of the losses.

In addition to the formal PBGC notification, the PBGC said sponsors will also be expected to “consult a qualified adviser concerning recovery of funds invested directly or indirectly with Madoff Securities.”

Multiemployer Plans

Meanwhile, the agency said multiemployer plans covered by Title IV of ERISA do not have the same reporting responsibility. 

However, if the trustees believe that benefits cannot be paid when due, or all, or substantially all, employers stop contributing to the plan, the trustees have legal responsibilities, which may include reducing benefits, assessing withdrawal liability, and notifying PBGC.

The notice said single-employer sponsors can contact Roger Reiersen of PBGC's Department of Insurance Supervision and Compliance at (202) 326-4000, extension 3704, or via e-mail at .

Mutliemployer plan sponsors can contact the PBGC Multiemployer Division at 202-326-4000, ext. 3012, or send an e-mail to ."

The Form 10 and instructions on completing it are available  here .

The PBGC release comes close on the heels of a similar advisory released by the Department of Labor (DoL).  The DoL advised sponsors that once they discover Madoff losses,  "appropriate steps should be taken to assess and protect the interests of the plan and its participants and beneficiaries (See DoL Provides Guidance for Madoff-Maimed Plans )."

Numerous plan sponsors have been discovered, or been notified, in recent weeks that their Madoff-related investments had generated substantial plan losses (See  Madoff Scheme Hits LA Funds , and  Another Union Reports Madoff Hit to Pension Funds ).