Former Peregrine Financial Group CEO Russell Wasendorf Sr. pleaded not guilty to 31 counts of making false statements to regulators on Friday, one month after confessing to a decades-long fraud scheme.
Mr. Wasendorf claimed to have embezzled over $100 million, but the ensuing investigations revealed that at least $200 million of customer funds are missing.
If convicted, Mr. Wasendorf will face up to 155 years in prison. However, he may attempt to strike a plea agreement that would reduce his sentence in exchange for his help tracking down the misappropriated money.
The Peregrine scandal, coming months after similar events at MF Global, undermined faith in the security of funds deposited with Futures Commission Merchants (FCMs), and led the CFTC and the NFA to begin introducing new rules intended to shore up confidence. On August 16, the NFA approved amendments to existing rules that will require FCM to provide regulators with view-only access via the internet to account information for each of the FCM’s customer segregated funds accounts at a bank or trust company.