On Friday, Russell Wasendorf Sr, the CEO of Peregrine Financial Group, was arrested by the FBI for allegedly stealing more than $100 million from clients of the company. He admitted that he had been using Photo Shop, Excel, scanners and laser and ink-jet printers to make counterfeit statements, and that he had been doing so for nearly 20 years. The FBI complaint included a note from his failed suicide attempt on last Monday in which he had written, “I have committed fraud … I feel constant and intense guilt.”
On last Tuesday, PFGBest filed for Bankruptcy.
After his suicide attempt to asphyxiate in his car by funneling tailpipe exhaust failed, Wasendorf admitted to the authorities that the information in the suicide note was true. He said that he turned to crime because he did not have access to the capital he needed. He mentioned in the note, “I was forced into a difficult decision: Should I go out of business or cheat?” And he concluded, “I guess my ego was too big to admit failure. So I cheated.”
Wasendorf admitted that he had had sole control over the U.S. Bank accounts and, “With careful concealment and blunt authority I was able to hide my fraud from others at PFG.”
The federal complaint shows that Wasendorf had habitually made false statements to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission regarding the value of customer-segregated funds held by PFGBest.
It has been reported that Wasendorf used to intercept confidential regulatory documents mailed by the National Futures Association to the U.S. Bank, by using a specially set-up mailbox. Wasendorf had also ordered his subordinates that bank statements should be directly delivered to him unopened and that bank employees should not speak with anyone else in the organization.
Nicholas Iavarone, the lawyer of PFGBest for the last 23 years said that Wasendorf’s son was unaware of his father’s crimes. He was not being investigated, and he was co-operating with the authorities and trying to help them.