Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Where's the Money, Jon?

The MF Global debacle is getting more interesting by the moment. The hearings concerning what happened to customer money are not exactly shedding much light on the matter, either:

Terrence Duffy, executive chairman of CME Group, told a Senate hearing that an MF Global staffer told one of his employees that Corzine knew $175 million the firm loaned to a European affiliate came from segregated customer accounts.

Duffy said CME Group provided the information to the Department of Justice, which is pursuing a criminal investigation into the eighth-largest bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Corzine has twice testified under oath that he was not aware customer funds were missing until Oct. 30, just before the firm's collapse.

Corzine, in case you didn't know, is Jon Corzine, the heavyweight veteran of Wall Street who was incidentally once a senator and governor for the state of New Jersey. CME, in case you didn't know, is the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The CME is where many of the agricultural commodities in the country are sold. And it turns out that a lot of the missing customer account monies belonged to farmers in the Midwest, including one guy the Star Tribune happens to mention:

Among those who are missing money is Minnesota farmer Dean Tofteland. He didn't mince words about what he thinks happened to $253,000 he had deposited in his futures and options account at the bankrupt brokerage.

"Commingling money is stealing money," Tofteland told members of the Agriculture Committee earlier in the day.

Tofteland, who raises wheat, corn and pigs in Luverne, stressed his sense of betrayal as he waits to see if he will recover the $253,000, plus another $100,000 he lost when he was forced to liquidate hedges held at MF Global.

"These funds were not an investment in MF Global," Tofteland told committee members, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the Minnesota Democrat who invited him to testify. "These funds were not a loan to MF Global. These funds were simply collateral required by the exchange as a guarantee for my promise to deliver the bushels that I priced."

Meanwhile, Corzine is into omerta:

As he did last week in the House hearing, Corzine offered no explanation of where the missing money went. Nor did Bradley Abelow, MF Global's president and chief operating officer, or Henri Steenkamp, the chief financial officer of MF Global Holdings Ltd. Both appeared with Corzine before the Senate panel.

Several senators grew openly frustrated with the trio's inability to answer questions or to give the names of individuals who could.

There's a much larger story here. We don't know the particulars, but we're going to find out soon enough. And there will be a lot more people than Dean Tofteland who are hurt.


W.B. Picklesworth said...

It seems that Trust has become a huge issue. We have less and less reason to do so. And elites or Big Whatever are not helping matters. Instead of being chastened, they seem more brazen.

Gino said...

betcha when this shakes out, Corzine's lifestyle will still be as generous as ever.

that is how it works.
the OWS folks were right about just one thing...1% vs 99%.

Mr. D said...

betcha when this shakes out, Corzine's lifestyle will still be as generous as ever.

I don't think so, Gino. A billion dollars just doesn't disappear. It was used to make someone (or something) else whole. And Corzine gets to fall on his sword. Cherchez la Eurozone.

Gino said...

he's got too many buddies in position of power, and a media that is already reporting generously of him.