U.S. Department of Labor Investigation Results in Tennessee Transportation Provider Paying $454,545 in Restitution to Employee Stock Ownership Plan
SHELBYVILLE, TN – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee has approved a settlement between the U.S. Department of Labor and Big G Express Inc., Stephen Thompson, and David Nolan involving the company's Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).
In accordance with the consent judgment, Big G Express – a Shelbyville, Tennessee-based trucking company – paid $454,545 in restitution to the plan. The Department also assessed a civil penalty of $45,454 against the defendants.
In addition to the reimbursement to the ESOP, the court ordered Thompson, the ESOP's former trustee, to be enjoined permanently and restrained from serving as a fiduciary, trustee, or service provider to any Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) plan. The court also ordered Nolan, Big G Express's chief financial officer, to complete 12 hours of fiduciary training within 12 months of his appointment as a fiduciary or service provider to any employee benefit plan.
The court's action follows an investigation by the Department's Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) that found that in October 2009, both Thompson and Nolan – acting as fiduciaries for the ESOP – caused the plan to pay more than fair market value when it purchased Big G Express common stock from Nolan and other shareholders.
The judgment also orders that Big G Express Inc., Thompson, and Nolan not seek direct or indirect contribution or indemnification from the ESOP either to pay the judgment or to pay its legal expenses.
"The U.S. Department of Labor will continue to work to protect the retirement plans of hardworking Americans," said EBSA Regional Director Isabel Colon, in Atlanta, Georgia. "Individuals and companies acting on behalf of workers who invest in their future retirement plans should ensure they act in good faith and within their clients' best interests."
Employers and employees can reach EBSA toll-free at 866-444-3272 for help with problems related to private sector retirement and health plans. Additional information can be found at http://www.dol.gov/ebsa
The mission of the Employee Benefits Security Administration is to assure the security of the retirement, health and other workplace related benefits of America's workers and their families. We will accomplish this mission by developing effective regulations; assisting and educating workers, plan sponsors, fiduciaries and service providers; and vigorously enforcing the law.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.