The Department of Justice announced today that an initial distribution of $16,440,674.35 has been issued to victim investors of the THOMAS PETTERS fraud scheme. These funds, forfeited to the United States through criminal and civil forfeiture proceedings prosecuted in the District of Minnesota, will be sent to approximately 364 victims worldwide.
On December 1, 2008, THOMAS JOSEPH PETTERS, of Wayzata, Minnesota, was indicted on multiple counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy for orchestrating a $2.1 billion Ponzi scheme. On December 2, 2009, a federal jury found PETTERS guilty of all 20 counts against him and was later sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard H. Kyle to 50 years in federal prison. Other defendants were convicted in related criminal proceedings. As part of their sentencing judgments, PETTERS and other defendants were ordered to forfeit assets obtained through their criminal activity, including real estate, bank and investment accounts, vehicles and other assets. Under federal law, the Department of Justice has the authority to distribute the proceeds of forfeited assets through the remission process to victim investors who lost money in connection with the scheme. The proceeds of all forfeited assets are being distributed to victim investors.
Additional forfeited funds will be distributed to victim investors through the remission process when pending forfeiture proceedings are completed. The total distribution amount is yet to be determined.
The forfeiture proceedings were part of a coordinated effort to compensate victim investors. In October 2008, the United States obtained an injunction against the fraud in a separate civil case, and the Court appointed a receiver to assist in the recovery of assets. Thereafter, multiple bankruptcy proceedings were filed in Minnesota and other states. In September 2010, the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court approved a Coordination Agreement governing the asset recovery efforts of the United States, the bankruptcy trustees, and the Court appointed receiver. In addition to the funds distributed via remission payments, additional payments are being made to victim investors and creditors through these ongoing bankruptcy and receivership proceedings in various states including Minnesota, Illinois and Florida.
For more information about the PETTERS criminal case, victim compensation, and the asset forfeiture remission process, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-mn/tom-petters-case
The Petters’ remission payments would not have been possible without the efforts of the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota, the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in the prosecution of these crimes and the recovery of assets supporting the forfeiture in this case.
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United States Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota: (612) 664-5600