For Immediate Release: May 24, 2012
Contact: Joanna Hawkins or Leni Fortson
Release Number: 12-1007-NEW (ebsa 12-55)
US Labor Department suit frees more than $2 million in retirement
assets for workers of defunct Weehawken, NJ, employer
Independent fiduciary appointed for abandoned 401(k) plan of Worldwide Trade Resources
WEEHAWKEN, N.J. ‒ The U.S. Department of Labor has obtained a court order appointing an independent fiduciary to manage the abandoned 401(k) plan of Worldwide Trade Resources Inc., formerly located in Weehawken. As of Jan. 31, 2011, the latest information available, the plan had 52 participants and assets totaling approximately $2.2 million.
Under the order, entered in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, M. Larry Lefoldt of Lefoldt & Co. P.A. has been appointed to serve as an independent fiduciary of the 401(k) plan. As such, he has the authority to manage the plan, distribute its assets to eligible participants and beneficiaries, and terminate it. The order resolves a lawsuit filed by the Labor Department in October 2011 that was based on an investigation conducted by the New York Regional Office of the department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration.
“Retirement savings are extremely important to workers and their families, especially to those who have left the workforce and are relying on those savings as their primary source of support,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “We are pleased that these plan participants soon will once again have access to the hard-earned savings they entrusted to the plan established by their former employer.”
“Workers and beneficiaries are still entitled to collect their retirement savings even if an employer goes out of business,” said Phyllis C. Borzi, assistant secretary of labor for employee benefits security. “My agency is committed to protecting the rights of plan participants and ensuring they have access to the retirement benefits they have earned.”
The department’s suit alleged that Worldwide Trade Resources Inc. ceased operations in or around October 2010 and did not provide for the distribution of individual account balances. Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, plans must be managed by named fiduciaries. In the absence of a plan fiduciary, participants and beneficiaries cannot obtain plan information, make investments or collect retirement benefits.
Employers and workers can reach EBSA’s New York office at 212-607-8600 or toll-free at 866-444-3272 for help with problems related to private sector retirement and health plans. Additional information can be found at www.dol.gov/ebsa. The case was litigated by the department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor in New York.
Solis of Labor v. Worldwide Trade Resources Inc. 401(k) Plan
Civil Action Number: 11-cv-06104
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.