Poor management decisions by MF Global’s former CEO Jon Corzine triggered the brokerage firm’s collapse, while lax protections for customer funds contributed to the loss of an estimated $1.6 billion of customer money, congressional investigators have determined.
Evidence unearthed by the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight puts the blame squarely on Corzine, the panel’s chairman Rep. Randy Neugebauer, said in a preview of the report that will be released on Thursday.
“The responsibility for failing to maintain the systems and controls necessary to protect customer funds rests with Corzine,” the report says. “This failure represents a dereliction of his duty as MF Global’s chairman and CEO.”
Corzine, a former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs who also served as a U.S. senator and as governor of New Jersey, has denied any wrongdoing.
MF Global filed for bankruptcy more than a year ago, as investors scrambled to pull out funds after revelations the firm bet heavily on European sovereign debt and after credit downgrades.
Regulators, prosecutors and lawmakers have been looking into the estimated $1.6 billion in customer funds revealed to be missing after the firm’s collapse.
As MF Global was in the final throes of a fatal cash crisis, CEO Jon Corzine gave “direct instructions” to transfer $200 million of customer funds to cover an overdraft, according to a congressional memo released Friday.
The memo cited an October 2011 memo from assistant treasurer Edith O’Brien, who is scheduled to testify next week at the latest in a series of congressional hearings into the collapse of the firm.
The bankruptcy trustee overseeing the liquidation of the company’s brokerage subsidiary has estimated at $1.6 billion in customer funds is missing.
Corzine, a former senator and governor of New Jersey, has testified before Congress that he had no specific knowledge of how customer funds may have been misused.
Steven Goldberg, a spokesman for Corzine, said Corzine did ask for the overdrafts to be corrected but “never gave any instruction to misuse customer funds.”
“He never directed Ms. O’Brien or anyone else regarding which account should be used to cure the overdrafts, and he never directed that customer funds should be used for that purpose,” Goldberg said in a statement.
Corzine has not been formally accused of any wrongdoing. Days after the request to transfer customer funds to cover the overdraft in a JPMorgan account in London, MF Global collapsed and was forced to file for bankruptcy.