The trustee overseeing the corporate bankruptcy of convicted businessman Tom Petters filed more than 60 motions this week seeking the return of "false profits" totaling $85 million from investors in Petters' infamous decadelong Ponzi scheme.
The motions for partial summary judgment, filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in St. Paul, also seek $34 million in accumulated interest on those profits for a total potential collection of $119 million for the bankruptcy estate.
Chief Bankruptcy Judge Gregory Kishel authorized the motions, on which he will rule, in an order late last year.
In a summary judgment motion, a party claims there are no factual issues in dispute and that he is entitled to the money in question.
In this case, Trustee Doug Kelley is basing his motions on evidence that the Petters investment scheme was illegal and that any profits collected by investors were the result of ill-gotten gains.
"The law for false profits is simple: Did you take more out than you put in?" Kelley said.
The motions target individuals and businesses who invested with Petters in a Ponzi scheme that involved the fictitious sale of consumer electronic goods to big-box retailers. No goods existed and no sales were made. Profits for early investors were paid with funds from later investors.
Total losses reached $3.65 billion when the fraud collapsed in 2008.
The new motions seek money from parties who still face lawsuits filed four years ago to claw back their profits. About half of those 200 suits have settled, often for lesser amounts.
The investors facing judgment motions have the right to dispute the profit numbers submitted by the trustee. Those figures were calculated by the auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Hearings on the motions before Kishel are expected next spring.