Futures Brokerage PFG Best Freezes Accounts Following Discovery Of Accounting Irregularity

Tyler Durden's picture

Update 3: Russ Wasendorf Sr., the founder and CEO of PFGBest, reportedly attempted to commit suicide this morning outside the corporate headquarters in rural Cedar Falls, company officials confirmed Monday afternoon.

Update 2: PFGBest had $400MM in customer segregated funds at the end of April. Is JPMorgan about to "discover" another $400 million in Q2 "profits"?

Update: PFGBest Plans 'Several Hundred' Layoffs, Spokeswoman Tells Dow Jones - Dow Jones. Sounds like a good idea in the facec of liquidation

Just out from futures broker PFG Best to clients, where the owner's suicide attempt apparently has led to a whole new MF Global spin off.

Monday, July 9, 2012


Due to a recent emergency involving Russell R. Wasendorf, Sr., a suicide attempt, some accounting irregularities are being investigated regarding company accounts.  PFGBEST is wholly owned by Mr. Wasendorf.  Therefore, the NFA and other officials have put all funds on hold, and PFGBEST is in liquidation-only status with our clearing FCM.  What this means is no customers are able to trade except to liquidate positions. Until further notice, PFGBEST is not authorized to release any funds.  We will update you as any new procedures are stipulated and with any further information as it becomes available.

... And just as the public trust was storming back into the capital markets.

From Reuters:

Small U.S. futures brokerage PFGBest told customers on Monday that its funds had been put "on hold" as it investigates accounting irregularities following an apparent suicide attempt by the firm's owner.


The Cedar Falls, Iowa-based broker, which had about $400 million in customer segregated funds at the end of April, said it was in "liquidation-only" status with its futures commission merchant (FCM), meaning that "no customers are able to trade except to liquidate accounts," according to the notice.


It said the National Futures Association (NFA) and other officials had put all its funds on hold.


PFGBest officials were not immediately available to comment. One PFGBest broker verified the letter. A second source familiar with the company said owner Russell R. Wasendorf, Sr., had attempted to commit suicide at the firm's Iowa compound.

From WCF Courier:

Prominent Cedar Falls businessman hospitalized after suicide attempt


Russ Wasendorf Sr., the founder and CEO of PFGBest, reportedly attempted to commit suicide this morning outside the corporate headquarters in rural Cedar Falls, company officials confirmed Monday afternoon.


Wasendorf was taken to Sartori Memorial Hospital this morning, then later was airlifted to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where he was in critical condition.


Emergency crews were called to the headquarters shortly after 8 a.m. after employees found a man in a car near the headquarters building, located near the Beaver Hills Country Club.


The National Futures Association, the self-regulating organization of the United States futures industry, has placed PFGBest on a “liquidation only” status due to Wasendorf’s condition. The company is wholly owned by Wasendorf.


The company stated that all funds have been put on hold, meaning customers will only be able to sell off their interests, until future notice.


According to company officials, accounting irregularities are being investigated.


Wasendorf, the founder of PFGBest, an international brokerage firm, moved the corporate offices of the company from Chicago to rural Cedar Falls in 2009. He had started the company in Chicago in 1990.


Wasendorf is a Cedar Falls native who started his business in his hometown.

Meet Russell R. Wasendorf, Sr.

PFGBEST's Leadership

Russell R. Wasendorf, Sr.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PFGBEST

PFGBEST, the brand that evolved from Peregrine Financial Group, Inc., was incorporated in 1990 and has grown to become one of the largest U.S. non-clearing futures brokerage firms.

Russell R. Wasendorf, Sr.PFGBEST has a presence in the world’s major financial centers, plus a network of more than 700 branches, introducing brokers, foreign introducing brokers and Commodity Trading Advisors (CTAs) serving customers in 80 countries. The company is an industry leader in technology innovations to benefit online traders and investors. It has multiple proprietary online trading platforms that have been spun off of the original BESTDirect Online Trading system, which was one of the very first to deliver customer orders directly into the Globex trading engine of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, in 1998.

Throughout the 1980s, and 1990s, Russell R. Wasendorf, Sr. invested in technological capabilities to create the BESTDirect Online Trading platform, well before other brokerage firms were engaged in this science.

Today, the BESTDirect Online Trading platform continues to be known for its efficiency and reliability, making futures and forex markets more transparent and more easily accessible for all participants. PFGBEST has grown to be a liquidity provider that is completely unbiased and diversified to accommodate trading strategies across a variety of asset classes, including futures, forex, options, securities and precious metals.

PFGBEST has a leading position in online futures, forex and options; retail brokerage; forex services for individual and institutional clients; managed accounts; demand-inspired new technologies and investor education.

Russell also founded SFO – Stocks, Futures and Options, the Official Advocate for Personal Investors – in 2001. The magazine became one of the most widely-distributed monthly publication specializing in these investments, and today it is completely digital.

He is a noted writer and educator, having written or co-written six books about futures and trading. These include: Commodity Trading: The Essential Primer; All About Futures From The Inside Out; All About Commodities From The Inside Out; All About Options From The Inside Out; All About Managed Futures From The Inside Out; and The Complete Guide To Single Stock Futures.

In 2007, Russell founded W&A Publishing, a firm that has brought numerous authors to market and developed a reputation as “the trader’s tutor”. In 2009, he purchased the assets of another well-regarded investment publisher, Trader’s Press, and moved the business to Cedar Falls, Iowa. The two were merged under the Wasendorf & Associates, Inc. brand in 2010.

Russell is widely recognized as an expert and industry voice in many venues, advocating on behalf of efficiencies for individual investors. He serves on the FCM Advisory Committee of the National Futures Association (NFA).

He is one of the original partners in a real estate development company, Avrig 35, headquartered in Bucharest, Romania. Avrig 35 has built some of the most significant commercial buildings in East Europe during the past decade.

He sits on the Board of the Peregrine Fund along with notables including Patricia Disney, Julie Wrigley, Lee Bass, Henry Paulson, Jr. and Paxton Offield. The Peregrine Fund is a non-political, science-based organization in Boise, Idaho, which works worldwide to conserve wild populations of birds of prey. He also sits on the President Committee of both the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa.

Russell began his career as director of public affairs for the American Soybean Association and is a photographer and cinematographer. After that, he worked with Commodities Magazine from 1976 to 1980 and was Director of the Commodities Educational Institute, an affiliated entity. In 1980, he started Wasendorf & Associates, and he founded the Center for Futures Education. Wasendorf & Associates created an Introducing Brokerage arm – Wasendorf & Son Company – in 1986. Peregrine Financial Group, Inc. was born in 1990 to better serve trading customers.

Russell’s philanthropic endeavors are channeled through Peregrine Charities, a private family foundation that he founded in 2004, with a charitable focus on research and cures for rare childhood diseases and help for the families facing these illnesses.

He received two honors in 2010: the Patriotic Employer Award, for support of the U.S. National Guard and Reserve and employees who are serving or have served in the military; and, the Treating Capital Award from the Cedar Valley Alliance and the Cedar Falls Chamber of commerce for providing regional opportunities in technology employment and commitment to green practices and sustainability efforts.

* * *

And while Senior obviously had some problems, as confirmed by his Finra record, his son appears to have had some close encounters with the regulators as well.


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Seize Mars's picture

Whither thou goest, Alaron Trading?

Unprepared's picture

I hope Gerald Celente does not have an account with them, or you know what, screw him, I don't give a shit anymore.

hedgeless_horseman's picture



Until further notice, PFGBEST is not authorized to release any funds.

Don't panic! 

I am certain JPM got their money before the news broke.  Jamie Dimon will be fine.  His career is safe. 

Now, get back to the salt mines!

tmosley's picture

Do we have any idea how much money is tied up in PFG right now?

Rahm's picture

Fuckin JPM strikes again

knukles's picture

So happy everything's still OK today.

iDealMeat's picture

I knew there was a Squid connection in here somewhere.


He sits on the Board of the Peregrine Fund along with notables including Patricia Disney, Julie Wrigley, Lee Bass, Henry Paulson, Jr. and Paxton Offield.



CIABS's picture

I just looked on the New York Times website and found no reference to this story.

Temporalist's picture

Stan now more than ever you need to understand the importance of saving money

And it's gone...


Aziz's picture

More proof the banks learned the necessary lessons since 2008.

The Watchman's picture

Just when "vaporized" was starting to get old.....

sunaJ's picture

I'm a little fuzzy on the chicken/egg details of this story.  Is it because of the suicide attempt that enforcement actions were taken on PFG?  If so, is that the level of opacity that governs intervention, where it is only when someone attempts suicide or people's money vaporizes that it is finally decided that enforcement action must be taken on a firm? 

NumberNone's picture

Just in case anyone is interested, you can pick up a copy of Russell R. Wasendorf's book "All About Futures: From the Inside Out" for .01.   Somehow a very ironic title.

Maybe it wasn't a suicide but an disgruntled buyer of the book that felt he/she overpaid? 



LostAtSea's picture

or, it was the beneficiary of that $220M....killed him because he was going to go public with the details..?


NumberNone's picture

Also, looks like Wasendorf was one step ahead of the FCM and put himself into liquidation only status. 

Ms. Erable's picture

And he came soooo close to becoming a Good Banker this morning.

HoofHearted's picture

Why couldn't Corzine have at least had the decency to attempt to commit suicide? This guy actually has some integrity. Corzine- not so much...

Whoa Dammit's picture

It's more likely he's a guy who knows what happens when someone is run over by a combine harvester, and tried to take a better way out.

francis_sawyer's picture

Combine Harvester ~ LOL...


Yeah dude, here's your BALE OUT, I have it right here...

killedbyshortvol's picture

Try the National Futures Association (SRO) website for case docs (it looks as though depositors are in trouble):





fuu's picture

"Further, NFA learned that, in contrast to purported bank confirmations submitted to NFA that sought to confirm U.S. Bank account balances as of February 2010 and March 2011, that reported balances of approximately $207 million and $218 million, respectively, PFG's actual balances at U.S. Bank at those times was less than $10 million for each one of the months."


29 months...

King_of_simpletons's picture

I'm noticing a pattern among these crooks. They seem to be attempting to commit suicide or atleast pretending to kill oneself after looting money. Here is another one: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2171100/Aubrey-Lee-Price-Did-disgraced-money-manager-kill--secretly-run-swindled-millions.html?ito=feeds-newsxml


Advise to bankster looters. Buy a better rope, real bullets and potent poison. Don't chicken out. Go for it till the end.

Antifaschistische's picture

Wrong King...they're attempting suicide AFTER looting and AFTER getting caught.   Most of the looters and counterfeiters are still jet setting around the globe in 20-50 million dollar yachts.

LeBalance's picture



AGuy's picture

As Gomer Pyle said often:

"Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!"

Or Perhaps you would perfer the Jim Varney version.

"Hey Vern, You remember that Futures Account I held for you..."


Ninja Report's picture

[PFGBEST] has approximately $500 million in customer assets in segregated futures and forex accounts.


tekhneek's picture

"Segregated" ... there's that word again. Pretty sure we need a new ZH definition of "Segregated" funds.

Any takers?

cougar_w's picture

Winner! That was easy.

fuu's picture

Did I win? <pleaseletitbeapony>

tekhneek's picture

You win.

5 baby unicorns and a pot of gold for you sir.

knukles's picture

Segregated (noun.  English, etymology, from Latin sacred as in everybody wants to get their fucking hands on it)
1.)  As in put aside separate from the others so is easily identifiable as to be property of a Muppet and therefore risks no penalty from theft thereof.
2.) Eminently steal-able.
3.) Bait Account
4.) Fictional safety factor oft associated with fraudulent business practices
5.) As in asking to get fucked over
6.) Cronholed, or Corzined as in "You have been Cornholed."
7.) To never be seen again as in "Your money has been segregated from your possession."  "Out of reach, including and especially you."
8.) Toxic
9.) Unregulated
10) promised by thieves
synonym:  Allocated, safe, don't worry, be happy, gotcha covered, collateralized, marked to market, insured, third party, no conflict of interest.

BandGap's picture

Segregated - to do as we please until caught.

Bill D. Cat's picture

Any good definition would only end up in the Urban Dictionary .

stocktivity's picture

...but this is off their website -

"PFGBEST has a slogan: “The BEST thing about our technology is our people.” The customer service and customer relations team makes every effort to serve you with promptness and courtesy to earn their reputation as experts in customer care in the futures trading industry."

BC6's picture

Anyone else going to take delivery on their SpongeBob silver coin set from PFGBEST?


knukles's picture

Holy Bejezuz...

Can always tell a serious business by it's product line.

Son of Loki's picture

The SEC will get right on this...I'm not worried.......

fuu's picture

Nice find. $260 for 4 troy oz and a pirate chest.

Gringo Viejo's picture

"The 2nd time you get kicked by a mule, you don't learn anything."


GoinFawr's picture

On mules we find two legs behind

And two we find before;

We stand behind before we find

What the two behind be for.

When we're behind the two behind,

We find what these be for;

So stand before the two behind,

And behind the two before.

Oh regional Indian's picture


Instaclassic GoinF!


Silver Bug's picture

The paper pushers are going to eventually burn the house down. Hold your gold and silver tight.


Buy Silver, Save in Silver. Protect your Wealth.