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July 19, 2012

Peregrine CEO says he was pushed to cheat

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (UPI) -- The head of Peregrine Financial Services Inc. said U.S. regulators hounded him to the point that he had to go out of business or break the law.

"I have to say I don't feel bad about deceiving the regulators. They made the decision to be my enemy," said Chief Executive Officer Russell Wasendorf Sr., who has been charged with embezzling $215 million in client funds. He wrote notes to his son and wife and left a signed statement before a failed recent suicide attempt.

The statement says that money Wasendorf Sr. allegedly embezzled from the company went to pay for a new company headquarters in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and to cover regulatory fees and fines, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

One note asks his son, Russell Wasendorf Jr., to forgive him, saying his only mistake his son made was to trust his father.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the National Futures Association have charged Wasendorf with embezzling $215 million from the company.

Wasendorf's statement says he began misappropriating client funds in 1993 after the CFTC conducted six on-site audits of the company over a five-month period.

Eventually, the regulator found a "technical violation," which began a snowball effect, as it increased the company's capital requirements, the statement says.

"Most of the misappropriated funds went to maintain the increasing levels of regulatory capital to keep [the company] in business and to pay business [losses]," the statement says.

In a court appearance last week, Wasendorf did not enter a plea, the newspaper reported.

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