Peregrine CEO asset hunt reveals few luxuries

The hunt for the assets of Peregrine Financial Group CEO Russell Wasendorf Sr. has yielded a backyard pool, 2,000 bottles of wine, pickup trucks and some high-end photography equipment.

But a receiver appointed for Wasendorf's assets in the firm's bankruptcy says that so far there is little to suggest that the CEO, who in July confessed to stealing more than $100m (£64 m) from the futures broker's customers over nearly 20 years, blew the money on high-priced cars or other indulgences whose sale could quickly generate money for clients. He did own a private jet but that appears to be heavily mortgaged.

Wasendorf's relatively modest stash of possessions stands in contrast to the flashy toys with which other financial swindlers of recent years have surrounded themselves, and suggests that recouping money for Peregrine's former clients will not be easy.

Wasendorf's Cedar Falls, Iowa home has a back-garden pool with a retractable glass roof, a tree house, and grounds spacious enough to erect a tent for the firm's annual picnic, Michael Eidelman, the receiver, said.

But inside, the house was comfortable, not ostentatious, Eidelman said. There were couches, electronic equipment, family photos and, in the basement, a large amount of home-canning equipment.

"At this point we are not talking about Ferraris or Lamborghinis," said Eidelman, whose court-appointed job is tracking down and selling Wasendorf's assets at the highest price. "We do expect and we hope that we are going to find more assets as the investigation goes on."

Peregrine's bankruptcy trustee has previously said he has found less than $25m in cash and liquid assets. Eidelman did not say what, if any, cash he has located in Wasendorf's own accounts, and a court filing last week listing Wasendorf's known assets does not mention any. The investigation, the filing said, is in its infancy.