CFTC files civil fraud charges against Peregrine

Federal regulators have filed civil fraud charges against Peregrine Financial Group, accusing the firm and its owner of misusing customer funds and failing to keep them separate from the firm's money as required by law.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced the lawsuit Tuesday against the Iowa-based brokerage firm and its founder and chairman, Russell Wasendorf Sr.

Wasendorf tried to kill himself Monday, according to the CFTC and the firm.

The CFTC said Peregrine falsely reported to the agency that it held more than $220 million in customer funds when it actually had only $5.1 million. The agency is asking the court to freeze the firm's assets and appoint a receiver to take over the firm.

Industry regulators froze accounts at Peregrine on Monday.