A Minnesota jury recently charged Tom Petters, former chief executive of the investment company Petters Group Worldwide, guilty on 20 counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, money launderingand conspiracy.
Petters donated $14 million in gifts to the Farmer School of Business in 2004. He formerly served on Miami’s Business Advisory Council and Board of Visitors.
According to Claire Wagner, associate director of communication, Miami is arranging to return the funds Petters donated.
“We have communication with Douglas Kelly, who is the receiver who comes through the court case in Minnesota, and we will have to wait to hear from him about details about how much exactly to return to the courts,” Wagner said.
Wagner said Petters’ pledges were given to the business school in honor of his daughter Jennifer and son John, a Miami student murdered in 2004 while studying abroad.
Miami has no intention of retaining the gifts Petters donated despite Petters’ intent to honor his children, according to President David Hodge.
“We are not going to honor anybody who has been convicted of a felony, and we are not going to use money that was obtained illegally or fraudulently,” Hodge said. “Our plans are really quite simple. We are working with the federal receiver to return all of the remaining funds. We need to be sure that we are returning the right amount of money to the proper authority. So while there are some formal steps to complete, the intent is clear.”
Wagner said the university’s actions are waiting on the court process.
“We just have to wait for communication with the receiver, and we don’t know how long it is going to take the courts to make a decision,” Wagner said. “I’m sure there are plenty of things to consider.”
According to Minneapolis’ Star Tribune, Petters conducted one of the largest Ponzi schemes in U.S. history embezzling $3.65 billion from investors.
The Wall Street Journal said the 12-member jury in St. Paul, Minn., reached its verdict after five days of deliberations following a 17-day trial. Petters’ final sentencing will be announced in two months.
According to the Star Tribune, Petters testified for his own defense explaining he had been too emotionally upset with grief over his son’s sudden death in 2004 to effectively oversee his companies.