WorldCom chief faces jail over £5.7bn fraud

Former WorldCom chief executive officer Bernie Ebbers has been found guilty of a £5.7bn financial fraud which led to the largest...

Former WorldCom chief executive officer Bernie Ebbers has been found guilty of a £5.7bn financial fraud which led to the largest ever bankruptcy in US history.

A jury has returned guilty verdicts on all counts - one of conspiracy, one of securities fraud and seven counts of false regulatory filings. Ebbers is now facing a long prison term as the crimes carry up to 85 years in jail.

Sentencing has been set for 13 June, although Ebbers’ legal team say they will appeal the verdicts.

The conviction comes more than two years after an internal auditor uncovered a false accounting scandal at the telecoms company.

As the dot.com bubble burst, the company’s expenses were hidden and its sales were exaggerated in attempt to keep the company’s share price high, investigators found.

The prosecution claimed the fraud was committed by Ebbers to protect $400m in personal loans which were backed by the shares he had in the company.

WorldCom was driven to bankruptcy in summer 2002. The company has since re-emerged as MCI, and is currently the target of a takeover battle between US operators Qwest and Verizon.

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