SLIDESHOW: The Naughty List - Financial Edition
Russell Wasendorf Sr.
The extent to which the founder and CEO of Peregine Financial Group had been stealing the funds customers had on deposit with this Cedar Falls, Iowa-based commodities broker, only came to light in the note Wassendorf left after a failed suicide attempt. The robbery had appearently had been going on just as long as the Bernie Madoff Ponzi Scheme and in the letter he laid out exactly how he did it. n his note, Wasendorf said , he'd used the ill-gotten gains to build the company's $18 million headquarters and to "pay fines and fees charged by regulators." They did it by pretending they had more on deposit than they actually did. When the thievery was uncovered, Peregine supposedly had $200 million on the books, but it was actually more like $5 million. Once again, the regulators and overseers were nowhere to be found and, Wasendorf admitted, were easily fooled.