Friday, September 22, 2023
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Sunkist Agrees to $1.6M Retirement Plan Fix

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Sunkist Growers and fiduciaries for its retirement plans signed a settlement that requires them to restore $1.6 million in losses to employee-benefit plans.

The U.S. Labor Department says it had opened an investigation after the Employee Benefits Security Administration found that the Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based citrus farming cooperative and the plans' fiduciaries mishandled employee retirement funds in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

In its previous lawsuit, the department accused Sunkist of using retirement-plan assets between January 2006 and April 2011 to improperly make up for employee salaries and benefits.

It said EBSA investigators also found that the plans reimbursed Sunkist based on projected expenses determined at the beginning of the year rather than on the actual expenses incurred.

Sunkist made no adjustments to repay the plans for any overpayments, the investigators allegedly found.

In addition to an injunction against future ERISA violations, Sunkist's judgment requires the appointment of an independent fiduciary to review and approve any future services it provides to the plans.

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