| CHICAGO, July 19
CHICAGO, July 19 Silver SpongeBob SquarePants
coins minted by a private company in New Zealand were among
assets seized by FBI agents from Peregrine Financial Group after
its chief confessed to nearly 20 years of fraud last week.
Ira Bodenstein, the trustee in Peregrine's bankruptcy case
in Chicago, said the coins were in a vault at the firm's Cedar
Falls, Iowa, headquarters. The value of the takings was not
The coin disclosure adds a new twist to the case of
Peregrine Finiancial Group's CEO Russell Wasendorf Sr., who was
arrested last Friday after he confessed to doctoring bank
statements to make regulators think his futures brokerage had
nearly twice the assets that it did, leaving customers with an
estimated shortfall of over $200 million.
Peregrine, which operated as PFGBest, filed for bankruptcy
protection last week.
Peregrine ran a unit called PFG Precious Metals Inc., which
offers investors "whole sale prices, fast & fully insured
shipping" for gold, silver, and platinum coins, as well as
novelty items created through a partnership with the
Auckland-based minting firm.
Customers from as far away as Bulgaria bought coins through
the program, using Paypal accounts or credit cards to fund the
purchases, said James Koutoulas, CEO at Typhon Capital
Management. The coins were stored in a vault in Iowa.
A four-coin set of SpongeBob Squarepants, housed in a
"distinctive" treasure chest, went for $259, according to a
Website that displays both the PFGBest logo and that of the New
Zealand Mint. ()
Each coin in the set shows a character from the Nickelodeon
animated series and bears the inscription "IN SPONGEBOB WE
The mint told local reporters last week that it was paid in
full by PFG for the coins.