The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that thousands of individual investors who made financial claims in the wake of the $11 billion WorldCom accounting fraud will soon receive up to $150 million from an SEC fund set up to help compensate investors for their losses.

The SEC's ability to return penalty money directly to fraud victims is a new authority granted under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The entire $750 million penalty that the SEC obtained from WorldCom was paid into a "Fair Fund" when the reorganized company emerged from bankruptcy protection in April 2004. All of that money is earmarked for return to injured investors.

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