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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
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Judge Calls for Wylys to Pay $299M in Fraud Suit

(CN) - Billionaire tycoon Sam Wyly and his brother's estate owe more than $299 million in a Securities and Exchange Commission fraud action, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan ordered Wyly, of Dallas, to pay more than $198 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest.

The estate of Wyly's late brother Charles owes more than $101 million, according to the Feb. 26 order.

Scheindlin's ruling comes nine months after a federal jury concluded the brothers made hundreds of millions of dollars through using offshore trusts to hide stock trades.

A noted philanthropist and contributor to Republican causes, Wyly made his fortune co-founding Sterling Software in 1981 and buying an interest in arts-and-crafts retailer Michaels in 1982. Sterling was sold for $4 billion in 2000 and Michaels Stores for $6 billion in 2006.

The SEC sued the brothers in 2010, accusing them of playing a "global game of hopscotch" by hiding assets in their four companies - Sterling, Michaels, Sterling Commerce, and Scottish Annuity & Life Holdings Ltd. - from 1992 to 2004.

During trial, the SEC accused the brothers of making $550 million from more than 700 undisclosed transactions in 40 companies operated by Isle of Man trusts that shuffled money between the Cayman Islands and Dallas.

Noting Wyly's bankruptcy filing in Dallas this past October, Scheindlin stipulated that immediate payment of her judgment "is only applicable to the extent that the automatic stay triggered by his bankruptcy proceeding is no longer in effect" or has been found to not apply.

"Thus, it does not violate the automatic stay, as Sam Wyly need only pay the judgment when the stay if lifted," the 11-page order states.

Wyly's attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon.

SEC director of enforcement Andrew Ceresney said the agency is "pleased" with the ruling and "will take every available step to enforce it."

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