Wyly Fraud Trial Begins

Mar 31 2014 | 11:19am ET

Nearly four years after being accused of fraud, hedge fund billionaire Sam Wyly is getting his day in court.

Jury selection began today in the civil trial of Wyly and the estate of his late brother, Charles. The Securities and Exchange Commission in 2010 accused the two of setting up an “elaborate sham system” of offshore companies and family offices to skirt disclosing their holdings in public companies on whose boards they served. They also used the allegedly fraudulent infrastructure to hide sales of those stakes, the proceeds of which were often diverted to hedge funds Maverick Capital and Ranger Capital, which the brothers co-founded.

The fraud totaled $550 million, the SEC said.

The Wylys denied the allegations, arguing that the trusts were approved by lawyers and accountants. Earlier this month, one of their former lawyers struck a settlement with the SEC, admitting that he aided the Wylys’ violation of securities-disclosure rules. Michael French agreed to pay $795,000.

Charles Wyly died in a car accident about a year after the charges were filed, in the summer of 2011.

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