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Bernie Ebbers has been linked to the $11bn (£5.8bn) WorldCom fraud by one of his former employees.

Former WorldCom financial controller David Myers took the stand yesterday and testified that Ebbers apologised to him in 2000 after he was ordered to doctor the company's expenses. Recalling a conversation he had with Ebbers, Myers said his boss told him: "I'm sorry you were asked to do what you were asked to do. It's something that you should not have been put in that position to do."

Ebbers then told Myers that "he would never have to do it again". The court was also told that Ebbers pushed for the changes to maintain WorldCom's double-digit growth and to protect the value to his WorldCom stocks.

The New York Post reports that this is the first time that Ebbers - who denies nine counts related to the collapse of telecoms giant WorldCom in 2002 - has been linked directly with the scandal. Ebbers maintains that the fraud was orchestrated by ex-CFO Scott Sullivan. The defence team maintains that Ebbers was not capable of carrying out such a complex financial fraud.

Myers also testified yesterday that Sullivan ordered him to cook the books. Last year Sullivan admitted "engaging in a fraudulent scheme to conceal WorldCom's poor financial performance" and is expected to be the Government's star witness against Ebbers.

The trial is expected to last eight weeks. If found guilty, Ebbers faces up to 25 years in jail. ®

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