American entrepreneur Bernie Ebbers has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the Worldcom accounting fraud. Ebbers, the founder and former chief executive of the telecommunications company, was branded by the judge as “clearly the leader of the criminal activity” that preceded its collapse three years ago. New York Judge Barbara Jones said “Mr. Ebbers was the instigator of the fraud “and he deserved a stiff sentence. The 63-year-old was found guilty of orchestrating the largest corporate fraud in US history. His accounting scheme had created phantom profits of more than nine billion euros over several years. On the witness stand Ebbers maintained that he had no knowledge of the fraud at the company, but some jurors said he seemed evasive and that persuaded them of his guilt. He has already agreed, in a civil settlement, to give investors nearly all of his personal assets worth over 30 million euros.