Russell Wasendorf, CEO of Peregrine Financial Group was arrested for fraud in mid-July 2012. The chief executive was taken into custody after confessing to altering bank statements to cover up a $200 million shortfall in his futures brokerage. The fraud went on for twenty years.
Liquid operating accounts assets at the brokerage are estimated at approximately $24 million. Customer account balances, although undisclosed, will not cover investor losses. Peregrine operated PFG Precious Metals Inc., which sold gold, platinum and silver coins to international investors. A privately owned New Zealand mint also created novelties to be sold by PFG.
Among assets seized in the FBI probe were a four-coin SpongeBob Squarepants set minted by NZ Mint of New Zealand. The coins were stored at the firm’s Cedar Falls, Iowa vault where they were found in a “distinctive treasure chest,” displaying the NZ Mint logo alongside that of PFG Best. The mint disclosed that they were paid in full by the purchaser.