Following what happened recently at MF Global in the US and WorldSpreads in the UK, it was not such a shocking surprise in the FX world when news broke of yet another apparent FX ponzi scheme and misuse of client funds, this time at US-based PFGBest.
While initially it seemed as though attention centered on the sensational story of the attempted suicide of high-flying PFGBest owner / founder / Chairman Russell Wasendorf Sr., when more details of the story leaked out most of the focus changed to anger at PFGBest’s regulatory overseers, the CFTC and the NFA, and the questioning of what exactly they do.
Specifically, the announcement to investors/traders on the NFA’s website pointed out that the huge ($200 million-ish) discrepancy between what amounts were actually in supposed segregated client bank accounts, and what PFGBest reported was there, dated back more than two years to February 2010. That means to us, quite simply, that the regulators were just taking what PFGBest was reporting to it at face value for years, without spending the time (5 minutes at most, if that!!) checking the numbers directly with the bank.
While no regulations or regulators can perfectly prevent carefully-planned fraud nor immediately detect fraud, this situation going on undetected for years utterly baffles the imagination. What good are the NFA and CFTC if they don’t do something as basic as double-checking amounts in segregated bank accounts??!! How big a budget do they need to make a simple phone call once every day / week / month for each company they regulate??!!
Instead of writing too lengthy a piece on this subject, we’d like to point out an interesting item penned by Attain Capital, which had accounts at PFGBest.
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