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Jury awards $563 million verdict in lawsuit related to Tom Petters Ponzi scheme

Victims will receive close to $1 billion when interest is calculated, making it the highest dollar amount awarded by a jury in Minnesota history.
Credit: KARE
Wayzata businessman Tom Petters was convicted of 20 federal counts in connection with a $2.1 billion ponzi scheme.

ST PAUL, Minn — Following a three-week trial in St. Paul, a jury reached a verdict against BMO Harris Bank to pay victims of a Ponzi scheme run by Tom Petters a total of $484.2 million in compensatory damages for aiding and abetting a breach in fiduciary duty and an additional $79.5 million in punitive damages. 

When totaling 10 years worth of interest, the verdict calls for BMO Harris to pay close to $1 billion – the largest verdict in Minnesota history, according to attorneys affiliated with the case.

Petters was the CEO of Petters Group Worldwide, which stole more than $3.7 billion from investors. Petters was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison in 2010 after he was convicted of multiple counts of wire fraud and conspiracy.

Attorney Doug Kelley, the court-appointed receiver in the bankruptcy case resulting from the fraud, brought the suit against BMO Harris.

Kelley said Petters ran $3.7 billion through a BMO Harris Bank checking, and they never once filed a suspicious activity report with the feds. Kelley believed if BMO Harris had done so, the whole scam could have been stopped in its tracks.

“We are very pleased with the jury’s verdict,” Kelley said.

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