The FBI raided Vantage Benefits Administrators, a Dallas-based “TPA, recordkeeper and professional fiduciary.”
The Dallas Morning News reports search warrants were executed at the offices last week “amid concerns that money may be missing from retirement accounts the company manages.”
Vantage bills itself as a full-service employee benefits consultant.
The FBI would not say what it was looking for. The company’s website is currently down, and Jeff Richie, the chief executive of Vantage, could not be reached by the paper for comment.
According to the News, “Richie was sanctioned in 2008 by the Securities and Exchange Commission and barred from the investment business for three years ‘for conducting an unregistered and fraudulent offering’ of securities in the retirement-services company he was running at the time.”
Richie neither admitted nor denied the allegations in that case, the paper adds, and the agency waived a $4.3 million judgment based on his financial condition.
“I know of Vantage Benefits, I am shocked and appalled by allegations that retirement plans assets of plan sponsor clients may have been embezzled,” ERISA attorney and retirement plan expert Ary Rosenbaum told 401(k) Specialist. “If these allegations are true, this is a black eye for the 401k plan industry, just like Matt Hutcheson was.”
Matthew Hutcheson of Eagle, Idaho, to whom Rosenbaum references, was the trustee and fiduciary for the G Fiduciary Retirement Income Security Plan. He was sentenced to 210 months in prison in 2013 after a jury convicted him of 17 counts of wire fraud for misappropriating over $2 million of plan assets for his personal use. U.S. District Judge William Fremming Nielsen also ordered Hutcheson to serve three years of supervised release and pay $5,307,688 in restitution to the victims.
Hutcheson used the participants’ assets to extensively renovate his personal residence, including installing a pool, to repay personal loans, to purchase luxury automobiles, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, and a tractor.