Peregrine Auditor Banned

Aug 28 2013 | 12:05pm ET

When running a multi-decade fraud, it helps to have an auditor who looks the other way. Bernard Madoff had one, and so, it seems, did Peregrine Financial Group’s Russell Wasendorf.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has permanently barred Peregrine’s accountant, Jeannie Veraja-Snelling, saying her failure to properly audit the collapsed futures brokerage allowed Wasendorf to steal some $215 million from clients. In her final audit of the firm for 2011, Veraja-Snelling reported some $522 million in customer funds on deposit. When Peregrine fell apart seven months later, $190 million of it was missing.

“As the Peregrine debacle shows, the importance of the independent accountant’s gatekeeper function cannot be overstated,” CFTC enforcement chief David Meister said.

Veraja-Snelling audited Peregrine for a decade, and despite proclaiming that she did so “in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting standards,” failed to live up to any standards, the CFTC alleged.

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