Peregrine CEO had $6.9 million in life insurance, airplane debt

CHICAGO Tue Aug 7, 2012 1:21am BST

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - Russell Wasendorf Sr., chief executive of failed brokerage Peregrine Financial Group, had $6.9 million (4.4 million pounds) in life insurance and a debt on his private jet when he attempted suicide last month.

A receiver for Wasendorf, who in July confessed to stealing more than $100 million from the futures broker's customers over nearly 20 years, detailed the value of the plane and insurance polices in a court filing on Monday and said he was preparing to unload them as assets.

Peregrine, commonly known as PFGBest, filed for bankruptcy protection on July 10, one day after Wasendorf attempted suicide by funneling tailpipe exhaust into his car. He left a note describing how he had bilked customers and fooled regulators by intercepting and forging financial statements mailed between a bank where Peregrine customer money was held and the firm's auditors at the National Futures Association.

The receiver, whose court-appointed job is to track down and sell Wasendorf's assets at the highest price, said the CEO held two life insurance policies with an "aggregate death benefit" of $6.9 million.

One policy, issued in 2004, had a face amount of $4.5 million, the receiver Michael Eidelman said. He is seeking to surrender it for its cash value of about $1.3 million.

Wasendorf obtained a second policy with a face amount of almost $2.2 million 14 months before he attempted suicide, but it would not have paid a benefit if he had succeeded in killing himself. The policy has no cash value and should be allowed to lapse, Eidelman said.

Eidelman did not explain the difference between the $6.9 million aggregate death benefit of the policies and the $6.7 million combination of their face amounts.

If Wasendorf, who is in jail, dies before the second policy lapses around February 2014, the benefit should be paid to the receiver, Eidelman said.

Wasendorf, 64, was married slightly more than a week before he tried to kill himself and said in his suicide confession that his new wife did not know about the fraud.

The value of his Hawker Beechcraft 400A jet plane, used often for trips between Peregrine offices in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and Chicago, is believed to be "far less than the amount of the debt on the aircraft," Eidelman said.

The receiver is seeking to abandon or surrender the plane to a lender.

(Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)

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