More than $16 million seized in connection with Tom Petters’ massive Ponzi scheme is now being returned to hundreds of victims around the world, the U.S. Justice Department announced Monday.

Petters, 61, is serving a 50-year federal prison sentence for his role in a $2.1 billion fraud scheme — the largest financial fraud in Minnesota history — that authorities dismantled in 2008.

Petters’ sentencing called for him to turn over ill-gotten assets obtained through his pyramid scheme, including real estate, bank and investment accounts and vehicles. The Justice Department said Monday that an initial distribution of more than $16.4 million in seized funds has been issued to 364 victim investors who lost money during the scheme.

The department also said that more money will be sent to victims pending further court proceedings, but that a total distribution amount has not been determined. Victims and creditors are also expecting more payments through ongoing bankruptcy and receivership proceedings in several states, including Minnesota.


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