At least 90 former employees of Petters Group Worldwide have received letters from court-appointed trustee Doug Kelley requesting they return year-end bonuses from years ago.
The repaying of the bonuses is an option, not a requirement, and the money would help repay investors who lost money in Tom Petters’ $3.5 billion Ponzi scheme.
The bonuses in question range from about $5,000 to more than $2 million.
"We believe as part of the ponzi scheme he was very generous with bonuses to keep people from asking too many questions and to keep their loyalty," Kelley told FOX 9. "If people don’t' want to have big public spat with me as trustee I'm hoping people will just return the money they got from Mr. Petters "
At Petters’ criminal trial, prosecutors displayed bonus checks and tax documents during witness testimonies, including those of employees who were never charged.
Several institutions have returned money donated by Petters. In April, Miami University of Ohio and the Order of St. Benedict agreed to give up $7 million they received from Petters’ foundation. And last December, the monks of Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota voted to remove the Petters name from the Petters Pavilion and return a $2 million donation.
Petters was convicted last year on 20 counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering and sentenced 50 years in prison.
More: Who gets the Petters scheme money?