Qwest Returns $99K to DB Plan for Improper Expense Payments

June 8, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Qwest Communications has agreed to repay its pension plan $99,918 to cover company expenses improperly charged to the plan and interest.

The settlement covers $83,321 for the company expenses and $16,097 for interest, according to a Rocky Mountain News report.

Qwest’s payment comes after the Department of Labor (DoL) wrapped up its investigation into the company’s charging the expenses to the plan. The results of the investigation were outlined in a letter the DoL sent to the Association of US West Retirees. The DoL only described the reason for the company expense payments as being “related to settlor activities.”

Qwest spokesman Robert Toevs noted that regulators ultimately took issue with only a small percentage of the expenses. “During the period the DOL has investigated, the trust has distributed billions of dollars to beneficiaries, largely to retirees and their families,” Toevs told the newspaper. “The DOL investigation deals with relatively small amounts of money. However, we’ve taken this finding very seriously and the funds in question were restored to the trust in February 2003, plus interest.”

Qwest’s pension plan was underfunded by $314 million as of year-end 2002, after having a $4.1 billion surplus two years earlier. But the fund has since recovered to post a surplus of $204 million at year-end 2004, the Rocky Mountain News said.

Qwest noted in its 2004 annual report to regulators that the $9-billion plan can fund its estimated future obligations without the company having to contribute an additional amount, according to the news story.