NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The United States secretary of labor has filed a federal lawsuit against former Chesapeake OB-GYN Dr. Javaid Perwaiz, asking a judge to appoint someone to manage the company’s “abandoned” employee benefit plan.
The complaint, filed by Secretary of Labor Martin J. Walsh on July 15, alleges that Perwaiz and his company essentially abandoned its employee benefit plan after he was convicted in November of performing unnecessary surgeries and procedures on unsuspecting women as part of a healthcare fraud scheme, which violates the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.
Perwaiz was sentenced to 59 years in prison in May.
10 On Your Side has extensively covered the case of Perwaiz and interviewed his victims, whistleblowers and others involved in the decades Perwaiz practiced in Hampton Roads.
In 1982, Perwaiz set up an employee benefit plan that offered health insurance to his workers. The plan was subject to coverage of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, the complaint said.
Because of Perwaiz’s felony convictions in federal court, the secretary of labor said he was no longer allowed to serve as an administrator of that employee benefit plan.
On March 24, the Employee Benefits Security Administration issued a letter to Perwaiz informing him of this debarment, the complaint said.
However, the plan had yet to be formally terminated as of the lawsuit’s filing on July 15.
“Perwaiz and the Company did not, on information and belief, ensure the appointment of a new fiduciary to manage the Plan or oversee the distribution of the Plan’s assets. No individuals or entities have come forward to assume fiduciary responsibility for the Plan or to distribute its assets to Plan participants, and there is no fiduciary actively functioning on behalf of the Plan,” the complaint said.
The complaint further called the plan “truly abandoned” and therefore in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.
As of Jan. 29, the plan has More than $253,000 in assets. Records from Old Point Trust, which is the plan’s former third-party administrator, show that there were still participants with balances in the plan, including Perwaiz and other employees.
“Under the terms of the Plan, Plan participants are entitled to distribution of their account balances. However, because Perwaiz and the Company did not initiate termination of the Plan and distribution of the assets, or secure the appointment of an independent fiduciary, Plan participants and beneficiaries have been denied access to their vested account balances and have no way to transfer or otherwise gain control of their promised benefits,” the complaint said.
The Department of Labor is asking for the permanent removal of Perwaiz and his company as fiduciaries of the plan and from any positions that have control over it. Officials are also asking an independent fiduciary be appointed to help distribute the plan’s assets to the proper participants and beneficiaries.
Finally, they’re also asking the court to require Perwaiz, the company, and its agents to give the court-appointed fiduciary all the books and records relating to the plan.