Judge approves $6.1 billion in WorldCom settlements

A $6.1 billion settlement for WorldCom investors was approved Wednesday by a U.S. judge.

A U.S. district court judge on Wednesday approved a US$6.1 billion settlement to investors who lost money in an accounting fraud at the former WorldCom.

Judge Denise Cote of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York approved settlements that parties agreed to earlier this year, including US$2 billion to J.P. Morgan Securities and US$325 million Deutsche Bank Securities, according to a spokesman for New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund and the lead plaintiff in the civil case.

In November 2004, Cote approved a US$2.58 billion settlement with Citigroup.

The settlement includes payments from former WorldCom directors, as well as former Chief Executive Officer Bernard Ebbers, who was convicted of fraud in March and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Under the settlement, Ebbers must give up a house in Clinton, Mississippi, and interests in several businesses, including a lumber company, a marina, a golf course and several thousand acres of timberland. Hevesi's office in June estimated Ebbers' assets included in the settlement were worth US$25 million to US$40 million.

WorldCom, now MCI, filed for bankruptcy in July 2002, about a month after an internal audit in June 2002 uncovered US$3.8 billion in accounting errors. The accounting misstatements eventually reached a total of US$11 billion. In March 2004, a month before the newly renamed MCI emerged from bankruptcy, the company issued a report reducing pretax income for 2000 and 2001 by US$74.4 billion.

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