An American stockbroker penned a note confessing to a multibillion dollar fraud and setting out in detail how he carefully faked bank statements every month for 20 years, then ran a hose from the exhaust of his car and tried to kill himself.
But Russell Wasendorf's suicide bid failed, and last night the Iowa-based financier found himself facing the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison.
The suicide note was the centrepiece of an FBI charge sheet against Mr Wasendorf, in which he is accused of embezzling at least $100m from thousands of clients of his firm, Peregrine Financial.
Regulators, who moved in to shut the firm after the 64-year-old was airlifted to hospital on Monday, said that an account which purported to contain $220m in customer funds contained only $5m.
"I have committed fraud. For this I feel constant and intense guilt." Mr Wasendorf wrote in the note, copies of which he left in his car and for his son.