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The WorldCom fraud trial in New York entered a new phase yesterday after the prosecution concluded its case against former chief exec Bernie Ebbers.

Prosecution lawyers have tried to show that Ebbers - who denies the charges against him - masterminded the fraud. In more than two weeks of questioning only former CFO Scott Sullivan - who has already pleaded guilty to his part in the $11bn (£5.8bn) collapse of the telecoms giant in 2002 - has linked Ebbers with the accounting scandal.

Yesterday, defence lawyers called on US District Judge Barbara Jones to throw out the case against Ebbers because they claimed that the prosecution had failed to prove that the book-fiddling at the centre of the case was fraudulent. The call for the mistrial was rejected by Judge Jones.

The defence has now called on whistleblower and former internal auditor Cynthia Cooper as their first witness. She was one of the first people to lift the lid on the WorldCom accounting scandal.

USA Today reports that Cooper is expected to testify that her investigations link Sullivan, not Ebbers, to the fraud. ®

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