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Tom Petters trial set to begin

Jury selection is due to begin in the trial of Minnesota businessman Tom Petters, who stands accused of conducting a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme.

Mr Petters is pleading not guilty to more than 20 different charges, which include allegations of money laundering, obstruction of justice and fraud.

A 16-member jury is to be selected today (Wednesday 28th October 2009) for the case, which is expected to run for up to six weeks.

Prosecutors claim that Mr Petters and his associates convinced investors to loan them money to purchase electronic goods to sell on to large retailers.

But the money being paid back to clients in return for their investments actually came from funds from new investors, while Mr Petters reportedly used the cash to fund a lavish lifestyle.

Five of his ex-colleagues have already pled guilty to their part in the scheme.

Earlier this year, Bernard Madoff, who masterminded a global $65 billion Ponzi scheme, was sentenced to 150 years in jail.

By Gary Cooper