Massachusetts regulator opens pension probe against MetLife

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 18, 2017 11:50 AM

BOSTON (Reuters) - The top securities regulator in Massachusetts on Monday said he has opened an investigation of MetLife Inc after the insurer revealed last week it had failed to pay pensions to potentially thousands of people.

"Retirees cannot afford to have glitches with their pension checks," Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin said in a statement. "I want to uncover why this occurred and how MetLife is going to rectify the problem for the retirees."

MetLife, which pledged to fully cooperate with regulators, said the standard way for finding retirees who are owed benefits is no longer sufficient.

"While it is still difficult to track everyone down, we have not been as aggressive as we could have been," MetLife said in a statement.

"When we realized this was a significant issue, we launched an effort to do three things: figure out what happened, strengthen our processes so that we do a better job locating retirees, and promptly pay anyone we find - as we always do," the company said. "We are now using enhanced techniques within MetLife's retirement and income solutions business to better locate and promptly pay any group annuitant who may be entitled to benefits."

MetLife said in a filing on Friday that it believed the group missing out on the payments represented less than 5 percent of about 600,000 people who receive benefits from the company via its retirement business. Those affected generally have average benefits of less than $150 a month, it said.

"We are deeply disappointed that we fell short of our own high standards," MetLife said. "Our customers deserve better. We are committed to making this right for our customers. We found the issue, we self-reported it, and we are committed to doing better."

(Reporting by Tim McLaughlin; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and WIll Dunham)