Federal prosecutors are reportedly ready to charge former WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers with securities fraud and conspiracy.

The charges will be announced at a news conference Tuesday in New York by Attorney General John Ashcroft, according to media reports. The Justice Department said Tuesday morning that it would make an announcement at 1 p.m. EST about former WorldCom financial chief Scott Sullivan, but the feds offered no further details.

Reuters and WNBC-TV, the NBC affiliate in New York, first reported that the charges against Ebbers are due. WNBC said Ashcroft will announce securities fraud and conspiracy charges after Sullivan pleads guilty and agrees to cooperate with prosecutors.

The developments come in the wake of a busy season for federal prosecutors combing the corporate shenanigans beat. Earlier this year two other former top execs at a high-profile corporate collapse, Andrew Fastow and Jeffrey Skilling of Enron, were charged. Meanwhile trials continue apace for ex-CEOs at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Tyco and Adelphia.

WorldCom, which has changed its name to MCI ( MCIAV), collapsed in the summer of 2002 under some $11 billion in accounting irregularities, becoming the nation's largest-ever bankruptcy case. The company now operates under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Sullivan has already been charged in the case and was scheduled to stand trial later this year. The government's failure to bring charges against Ebbers had drawn vocal criticism.

A bankruptcy court-appointed panel headed by former U.S. Attorney General Richard Thornburgh concluded that Ebbers created an environment that led to the notorious fraud at the company and was aware of certain practices to inflate reported revenue.

In 2003, Oklahoma filed charges against Ebbers and others, but then dropped them, saying they would be refiled at a later date.

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