As if trading in the U.S futures industry isn’t risky enough, recent news concerning fraud and embezzlement committed by the CEO of one of the largest non-bank U.S. Futures Commission Merchants is sure to rattle the U.S. futures industry and devastate thousands of U.S. futures traders.

Peregrine Financial’s CEO Commits Fraud:

Peregrine Financial, also known as PFGBest, is a financial services and technology company founded by CEO Russell Wasendorf Sr..  PFGBest is registered with the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission as a Futures Commission Merchant.  Prior to the fraud and embezzlement committed by Wasendorf, PFGBest was one of the largest non-bank U.S. Futures Commission Merchants.

According to the Chicago Tribune, former PFGBest CEO, Russell Wasendorf Sr., admitted that he “bilked tens of thousands of clients over a period of nearly 20 years, faking bank statements and lying to federal regulators, employees and his closest family members.”  This caused the firms demise.

In September, Wasendorf, pleaded guilty to the following:

  • Mail fraud
  • Embezzlement of customer funds
  • Making false statements to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission
  • Making false statements to a futures trading association

In July, he admitted to the following:

  • Stealing customer funds for over 20 years
  • The ongoing scheme

Wasendorf’s Sentence:

  • 50-year prison sentence, the maximum sentence allowed by law.
  • Order to pay $215.5 million in restitution.

What are Futures?

A “future” is a contract between a buyer and a seller, agreed upon at a futures exchange, whereby the buyer agrees to purchase a specific asset for a specific price.  The delivery and payment takes place at some time in the future.  Futures are regulated by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).  The buyer will make money if the specific asset’s price increases.  Of course, the seller is hopeful that the price will decrease.  In the past, futures were used for the buying and selling commodities.  However, futures are currently also used in speculating interest rate trends and currency exchange rates.

What are your thoughts regarding this unfortunate event?