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SAG Pension and Health Plans React to Deadline.com Bombshells

With an informational meeting about the pending SAG-AFTRA merger set for what is forecast to be a rain-soaked weekend, a separate media storm has come the union’s way courtesy of Nikki Finke.

Under the shocking headline “EXCLUSIVE: Feds Investigating SAG P&H Plan Embezzlements And Cover-Ups Allegations,” Finke yesterday afternoon outlined details of a possible embezzlement scandal. Her sources indicated that testimony delivered late last year at the Federal Building in Westwood by former fund exec Craig E. Simmons was the spark that lit this fuse.

In an attempt to mitigate the fallout from Finke’s reports (another was published Tuesday), the fund released a statement to the media today, first tipped to Hollywood Reporter legal correspondent Jonathan Handel. The statement has also been provided to FishbowlLA and can be read in full at the bottom of this article.

Although the Producers Plans statement does not explicitly name Deadline.com as the offending outlet, it’s clearly who they are talking about. Included in Finke’s sensational report are a pair of PDF-ed letters from Simmons.

Here’s the media statement from SAG-PPHP:

MEDIA STATEMENT 3-16-12

SCREEN ACTORS GUILD-PRODUCERS PENSION AND HEALTH PLANS (SAG-PPHP) CORRECTS ERRONEOUS REPORTED CLAIMS REGARDING FEDERAL RAIDS

The Screen Actors Guild – Producers Pension and Health Plans first priority is its fiduciary responsibility to its participants. The Plans have effectively operated to provide some of the most significant benefits to our participants to be found anywhere in the world. However, recent media accounts containing erroneous claims about Federal officials raiding documents from the Plans and investigations into alleged cover ups have created an environment of misinformation that we want to dispel with the following clarifications:

- FACT: Contrary to recent reports, there is absolutely no validity to the story or to the underlying claim that any governmental officials have “raided” the Plans or otherwise have taken any documents from the Plans. In fact, it is important to understand that despite the mention of a “raid” of an office in Massachusetts, the Plans do not have an office in Massachusetts.

- FACT: In 2010 the United States Department of Labor announced a field audit of the Plans. Field audits of multi-employer plans of this sort are routine for benefit plans across the country. In fact, since 1987, this is the 10th Department of Labor (DOL) audit of the SAG-PPHP. This current audit is no different than previous audits, which have resulted in our staff working with the DOL to ensure that Plan procedures are up-to-date and in compliance with various adjustments in Federal guidelines and recent changes in the law.

As before, we want to reaffirm that the fiscal integrity of the Plans remains absolutely sound and that participant benefits are secure. There has been no change in the status of the Plans’ assets.The Trustees and staff will continue our efforts to reinforce the internal controls at the Plans to ensure that they are in line with best practices. While we cannot control the spurious stories that surface as a result of allegations made by a former employee, we can assure participants that their assets have never been at risk. To be clear: The pension and health plans are safe.

The Plans appreciate the trust that participants place in us to oversee their pension and health benefits, which continue to rank among the best in the nation.

The SAG-PPHP Board of Trustees

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