Well over a week ago, I got the startling news that the FBI closed down the office of Vantage Benefits, a Dallas based third-party administrator. I didn’t make any comment on it until it was properly reported that their offices were closed because I know how rumor and innuendo can hurt a business.
I know of Vantage Benefits and I know Jeff Richie, so I still can’t believe the news. I understand why people may commit financial crimes, but I don’t understand why anyone would embezzle plan assets in a fiduciary capacity because it’s easily self-incriminating. From a self-incrimination standpoint, I think trying to rob a bank gives you better odds that stealing assets from a retirement plan you serve as a plan provider and/or fiduciary.
If the allegations are true, then it’s another black eye for the industry coming just a few years after the Matt Hutcheson debacle. I was involved in the Hutcheson debacle having succeeded him as a fiduciary for the only plan he didn’t steal from as the allegations start to pop up. Like that situation, this story can be a learning experience for plan sponsors and plan providers in properly vetting plan providers as well as putting procedures in place to make sure assets aren’t misused.
I’m looking forward to an investigation into this matter, no matter the outcome.