PFGBest’s founder, Russell Wasendorf Sr. and his companies invested in a gamut of ventures, from wind turbines to silver coins featuring Spongebob SquarePants.
Now, investigators are piecing together these investments in an attempt to track what exactly happened to the $215 million in missing customer funds overseen by Wasendorf’s company, Peregrine financial Group Inc.
Wasendorf’s various ventures included restaurants, publishing companies, and several financial firms, according to marketing materials and investigative documents. According to sources familiar with the matter, Wasendorf built a wind turbine in his backyard in order to take advantage of government tax credits. Wasendorf also spent about $500,000 to launch a joint project with the New Zealand Mint and Nickelodeon to create silver coins featuring SpongeBob SquarePants, a famous children’s cartoon character. Records also show that his charity donated $1.4 million over a five-year period.
In a note left after Wasendorf’s attempted suicide last week, he admitted to spending most of the missing funds to cushion his trading firm’s capital, fund a new corporate headquarters, and pay regulatory fines and fees. Authorities, however, aren’t assuming that Wasendorf’s statements are true. Instead, authorities continue to search for evidence of where the money might have gone.
“Given the allegations in the case and the admissions made by Wasendorf in the statement accompanying hit suicide note, it is possible assets owned by the Wasendorf entities may have been procured with funds embezzled from PFG,” said Michael Eidelman, who is overseeing a forensic examination of assets owned by Wasendorf.
Photo credit: jhritz