The long-awaited trial of 16 former executives at Big Four firm KPMG on charges of conspiracy and tax evasion will begin in September.

Judge Lewis Kaplan set a date of September 17 for jury selection. The trial had been delayed earlier this year.

Kaplan also rejected a proposal by prosecutors to try the defendants separately in two groups.

The former KPMG partners and two other defendants have been charged with participating in a tax shelter that allowed clients to avoid paying roughly $2.5 billion in taxes to the Internal Revenue Service.

In August 2005, KPMG agreed to pay a record $456 million as part of a deferred-prosecution agreement admitting to fraudulent conduct in its marketing of its tax shelters.

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