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Bernard Ebbers is best known for his quick ascension to wealth and subsequent collapse with WorldCom telecommunications company.
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Business executive and convict. Born Bernard John Ebbers on August 27, 1941 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. One of five children born to a traveling salesman, Bernard Ebbers grew up in California, New Mexico, and Edmonton. He attended Mississippi College on a basketball scholarship and later ran a chain of motels in Mississippi.
Ebbers career skyrocketed when he got involved in the investment, acquisition and management of telecommunications companies in the 1980s. He co-founded WorldCom in 1995 and was named chief executive. The company soon acquired MFS Communications, Inc. Two years later, WorldCom made a successful unsolicited bid for MCI Communications, earning Ebbers fame and considerable wealth.
At his height in early 1999, Bernard Ebbers was worth an estimated $1.4 billion with personal holdings that included a 500,000 acre ranch in British Columbia, a 21,000 acre farm in Louisiana, 540,000 acres of timberlands in the South, and a minor league hockey team. Much of these holdings were backed by WorldCom stock holdings, and as the stock price declined, the WorldCom board of directors authorized loans to prevent him from selling his shares.
In April 2002, amidst allegations of conspiracy and fraud, Ebbers resigned from WorldCom. At that time, he was issued a single promissory note worth over $400 million from the WorldCom board. Following his resignation, an investigation uncovered accounting misstatements totaling $11 billion in inflated earnings. Ebbers was subpoenaed during the hearings in July 2002, and denied any fraudulent conduct.
In 2005, Ebbers was convicted of fraud and conspiracy in what was then the largest accounting scandal in United States history. The scandal resulted in a $180 billion loss to investors and bankruptcy of the company, leaving 20,000 people unemployed. A 2002 class action civil lawsuit against Ebbers and other defendants resulted in a settlement worth over $6 billion to be distributed to over 830,000 individuals.
Bernard Ebbers is currently serving 25 years at a federal prison in Louisiana. He was married to Linda Pigott from 1968 until 1997; they have three daughters. He married Kristie Webb in 1999.
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