Petters Investor Petitions Supreme Court
Ritchie Capital Management, LLC-an Illinois-based investment firm that lost big as a result of Tom Petters' $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme-announced Monday that it has filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking for the review of earlier decisions by U.S. District Court in Minnesota and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Ritchie claims that the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act of 1996 dictates that it should be awarded restitution for its losses by suing Petters' companies directly, but the courts ruled that victims must recover funds through other means-namely, by filing claims in the Petters bankruptcy case and receiving assets when they are doled out by Doug Kelley, the receiver in the case.
Under that method, though, Ritchie said that funds could go to other entities, including law enforcement agencies, prior to victims being compensated.
Ritchie instead seeks a restitution judgment-which it says would require money to be paid to victims without consideration of the defendants' financial conditions. That type of judgment is enforceable for 20 years, even if the defendants don't immediately have the money available, the firm said.
Steve Mertz-a partner in Faegre & Benson's finance and restructuring practice who is not associated with the Ritchie case but is familiar with the proceedings-said in a Wednesday phone interview that Ritchie's action is not necessarily indicative of a trend among victims of Petters' fraud, but rather another step in a contentious battle that Ritchie has been fighting with the receivership.
Mertz—whose firm represents some creditors and defendants in clawback suits related to the Petters case—said that, in his opinion, there are “sufficient mechanisms” put in place for creditors of the various Petters entities to recover valid claims from the bankruptcy case and the receivership. “It's whether claims are valid” that will be difficult to determine, and Kelley has previously objected to some of Ritchie's claims, he added.
In fact, Ritchie faces a clawback suit filed by Kelley that seeks $23 million.
Thane Ritchie, founder of Ritchie Capital Management, said in a statement that many people involved in the Petters case “have either manipulated the law or turned a blind eye to manipulation by others, and as a result have thwarted the efforts of innocent victims to recover their legitimate property.”
“We will continue to fight for the rights of our investors-which include factory workers, teachers, and other hard-working Americans through their retirement funds-who are the ultimate victims of the Petters Ponzi scheme and now the mishandling of remaining assets.”
Petters, a former Wayzata businessman, was found guilty in December of 20 felony counts relating to fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering, for orchestrating a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme that spanned a decade. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison in April.