Guest Post: Jon Corzine, MF Global, And Unaccountability

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Nomi Prins

Jon Corzine, MF Global, and Unaccountability 

In April 2007, former New Jersey governor, 'honorable', Jon Corzine had an altercation with a Garden State Parkway guardrail. A year later, he addressed a bevy of reporters at the swanky Drumthwacket mansion and expressed appreciation for “family, friends, and the fragility of life.” During his recovery period, he advocated seatbelt safety, before returning to New Jersey's budget, extracting $500 million in austerity measures from farmers, educators, and environmentalists, and hiking tolls on New Jersey roadways.

On the one-year anniversary of his accident, his chief-of-staff, Bradley I. Abelow declared,  “Corzine has returned to his former self as a thorough and exacting boss.” (Italics mine.)

Fast forward to the current MF Global flameout. Abelow shifted to Corzine’s Chief Operating Officer. And not only did Corzine ratchet up the ante on ways to really piss off farmers, but after several days of engaging in verbal dodge ball with Congress, this ‘thorough and exacting boss’ maintained his Forest Gump type cloak of secrecy regarding the stolen $1.2 billion of his customers’ segregated money.

After days of political-reality TV, we knew nothing more about its evaporation. Corzine and his stewards, Abelow and Chief Financial Officer, Henri Steenkamp, executed a perfect chorus of  ‘I don’t recalls’, ‘I didn’t intends’ and ‘the butler did its’.

For the most part, testimony from the various regulators didn’t shed additional light on the ‘missing’ funds either (everyone’s extremely sorry and deep in search mode) but they did reveal extreme, pass-the-blame incompetence, in the spirit of AIG.

Acronym alert. SEC director, Robert Cook testified that MF Global Holding Company (like AIG) had no official consolidated supervisor regulating it; one of its subsidiaries, MF Global UK Limited, fell under the UK Financial Services Authority (FSA.) The other one, MF Global Inc. (MFGI) was registered under the Commodity Futures Trade Commission (CFTC) as a FCM (futures commission merchant) and also, under the SEC as a broker-dealer. It was the Chicago Board of Options Exchange (CBOE) supposedly overseeing MFGI’s broker-dealer activities, while its futures activities fell under the CFTC, National Futures Association and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). Somewhere in the mix lurked the private self-regulatory body, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Really, how many inept regulatory bodies does it take to screw customers out of $1.2 billion?

But, here’s how we know Corzine was lying – besides the nervous body movements.

During the summer of 2011, the CBOE and FINRA told MF Global Inc. that it didn’t have enough capital behind its repo-to-maturity (RTM) positions in European sovereign bonds – the positions Corzine put on. By mid-August, the SEC got involved and met with Corzine and other MF Globalites. They then had to file a net capital deficiency notice on August 25th for $150 million.

During  the week of October, 17th – MF Global Holding had to increase capital again at MFGI - for the same positions. The next week, on October 25th, it released abysmal quarterly earnings, and got downgraded to almost junk status. The stock plummeted and customers were heading for the hills, the fastest ones getting their money out, others getting locked out. The SEC set up camp at MF Global headquarters in Manhattan on October 27th to “monitor the situation” and “engage with senior management regarding the steps that were being taken by the firm” regarding possibilities like selling the firm, selling the customer business, or selling the RTM positions.

On Sunday afternoon, October 30, a perspective buyer for MFGI’s customer business emerged: Interactive Brokers (whose judgment I question, so watch out for them). In the wee hours of Monday morning, October 31, – the ‘missing’ funds were detected.  Interactive Brokers balked. Bankruptcy proceedings begun at  9 AM.

The CME’s testimony stated that just past mid-night on October 31,st Christine Serwinski, the chief financial officer of MF Global's North American division, and Edith O’Brien, a treasurer, told Mike Procajlo, an exchange auditor that about $700 million in customer money was transferred on October 27th, 28th and possibly October 26 from the broker-dealer side of the business to ‘meeting liquidity issues.’ The CME hadn’t noticed this while reviewing the firm’s books prior to bankruptcy. Another $175  million was used by MF Global UK.

The CFTC disclosed that MF Global’s general counsel, Laurie Ferber notified them Monday evening, October 31st about “a significant shortfall in its segregated funds account”.  Neither the SEC, nor the CME had picked up on this beforehand.

As a broker-dealer registered with the SEC, MFGI was not just subject to CFTC rules, but also to the SEC's customer protection rule that prohibits use of customer funds or securities to support proprietary trading or expenses. It also prohibits customer funds or assets from being pledged as collateral for the firm’s own trades or to raise funds, plus requires a reserve account  be maintained that is bigger than their holdings – just in case.

The CFTC has a more lax rule, called Reg 1.25, weakened courtesy of MF Global, JPM Chase, and others that enables segregated customer funds to be used for investing in foreign sovereign bonds (investing – not posting as margin or acting as collateral). But as Janet Tavakoli pointed out in her excellent MF Global analysis; the ‘missing’ customer funds were not in the currency of the foreign sovereign bonds, as per the rule’s stipulation. Plus, none of the required replacement assets were held against those funds. Indeed, there is no element of Reg 1.25, the reg cited as a potential legal loophole by various media, that allows segregated customer funds to be used for risky purposes – like saving a firm from destruction long enough to sell it. Translation – the ‘missing’ funds were stolen against rules, from their rightful segregated customer accounts. Corzine claimed no knowledge of this.

But the reality is - the clock ran out on Corzine’s big bet and customer funds were the only way to keep it ticking until a potential sale of the firm could be confirmed. If the funds hadn’t been switched, the firms seeking margins would have taken losses. The motive was to optically alter the appearance of MF Global and exit, leaving the bag with someone else. You can’t have that clear a motive and no idea of how to achieve it. It’s implausible.

Let me put $1.2 billion into a perspective that the House committees didn’t. According to its second quarter SEC filing, MF Global had $3.7 billion of available liquidity.  The funds were equivalent to a third of that liquidity. That’s not a tiny figure. If you’re running a firm buckling under the weight of the bets you’re losing, you’re damn well aware of your liquidity lines – they are your life raft.

Besides that, MF Global’s net revenue for the second quarter was $206 million and for the six months ending September 30, 2011, it was $520 million. The ‘missing’ customer money was more than twice the firm’s net for the first half of their year.

To recap. Corzine was obsessed with the European sovereign bet. So, he fired his risk officer, Michael Roseman for questioning it,  and replaced him with a yes-man, Michael Stockman whose job description appeared to have included stroking Corzine's – er – ego, and to remain quiet about any trade concerns. He rides the trade through a succession of flailing earnings and intense market volatility, while meeting with regulators questioning its sustainability. He knows he’s got to pony up a chunk of capital in the summer to appease them and stick with it. And when finally, MF Global’s ratings were downgraded on October 25th, a bunch of calls transpire between him and NY Fed head and former Goldmanite, William Dudley before the firm goes bankrupt a week later, with nearly $1.2 billion in customer money ‘missing.’ 

We’re supposed to believe this ‘thorough and exacting’ man knew nothing about where it went? Or that his sense of entitlement and bravado was so big, he didn’t think it was wrong to take that money? Or that he wasn’t aware it was available? At all?

No. Not possible. And yet, over half a dozen regulatory bodies were oblivious to the fund heist. Finding Corzine guilty of a crime would be like asking them to indict themselves. The CFTC Enforcement division can refer criminal matters to the Department of Justice for prosecution. But the DOJ has punted on every Wall Street crime related to the 2008 subprime crisis. So what will probably happen –  is that Corzine may get a little fine from the Washington regulators. Legislators will move on to figuring out how to incorporate MF Global into stump speeches. Those that had their money stolen will battle it out in civil suits for years. And again, no lessons will be learned. No practices altered. No heads will roll.

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slewie the pi-rat's picture

we ain't believin nothin from this arch-bankster!

the crimex "regulators" appeared to play along w/ MF's lies until they were obviously no longer believable to even fellow banksters.  the cftc was also involved at critical times and places, and it seems they just (wink-wink) stood aside for the chiMercBoyz to pretend they couldn't add 2+2for DAYS while this mess was allowed to develop

corzine is not credible, but as you say...

scatterbrains's picture

so who is going to play Joe Stack's role and settle the score ?

some of these victims have been gutted and bled out, laying in ruin.

Joe Stack where are you?


  Ron Paul should use the MF heist on the campaign trail to educate the masses the extent of criminality going on at the highest levels of gov. these days.

flacon's picture

We need a Hammurabi Code for BANKERS and anyone who handles someone else's money:


Building codes have a long history. What is generally accepted as the first building code was in the Code of Hammurabi which specified:[4]

  • 229. If a builder builds a house for someone, and does not construct it properly, and the house which he built falls in and kills its owner, then that builder shall be put to death.
  • 230. If it kills the son of the owner, the son of that builder shall be put to death.
  • 231. If it kills a slave of the owner, then he shall pay, slave for slave, to the owner of the house.
  • 232. If it ruins goods, he shall make compensation for all that has been ruined, and inasmuch as he did not construct properly this house which he built and it fell, he shall re-erect the house from his own means.
  • 233. If a builder builds a house for someone, even though he has not yet completed it; if then the walls seem toppling, the builder must make the walls solid from his own means.

That would instantly solve almost all of our problems with "I don't recall", "I don't remember". 


Bring out the gallows and show them to Corzine, with his name plate on top. 

topcallingtroll's picture

Nice 99 dollar sniperscopes on, graciously advertised a week or so ago on zero hedge.

An m44 mossin nagant is about 89 dollars at aim surplus, another 15 to 25 to transfer it to a gun dealer near you.
About twenty bucks for cheap surplus ammo. Hell, spring for an 880 round case for 140 bucks.

You now have a cheap long range shooter. It is every bit as good as a 30.06 and with just a little practice you ought to be able to get five or six rounds in a six to seven inch group at 300 yards even for a newbie.

Oh I on the wrong forum?

nope-1004's picture

No you're not.  This is about Jon Corzine and the fact that he stole 1.2 Billion from the trusting, innocent public.  You fit right in.

Some of my favorite questions:

"Jon have you called any of the farmers who lost their life savings?"


"Jon have you offered to help look for the missing money while bankruptcy is happening?"


"Jon your net worth is about $600 million and you never offered to pay any of the trusting account holders back?"


"Jon where are you staying?  Which hotel?"

Ritz Carlton.


LMFAO!!  100% thief.





mrdenis's picture

Jon is on the golf course helping out OJ in his search ...

Mauibrad's picture

NYT:  Email Clues in Tracking  Client Funds   to #JPM

James's picture

I'm seeing reports elsewhere on the web that MF Globals REAL take is more like 4B.

We'll see in the coming weeks/months/years.

Pitchman's picture

We have the codes in place.  The problem is a balless leadership that are more interested in the pillage than the village.  And the people are clueless.

The greatest code in history is our Constitutional Republic.  With its inherent social code and detailed Rule of Law. It is a brilliant foundation for protecting liberty.

Codes do not mean squat if the governed stands by while those governing carry out their pillaging in broad daylight.

Not unlike our leadership abdicating their Constitutional oath, over time American citizens have abdicated their Patriotic duty of vigilance; protecting the people from it's government.  It is hard to get justice from a den of theives who think of nothing but Just Us and when the accused Master Psychopaths stand before their lackey (minion) psychopaths. 


Occupy Psychopaths: The Power Above You

Bye Bye Miss American Pie


POTUS 0 Will Sign Away Your Rights: Change you can believe in: Wake up & smell your Constitution-free future


The article smartly points out the underlying argument; free choice or freedom is the problem... that people, acting in their own best interest is bad. The President Declares Freedom & Free Markets Dead - What You Need To Know.


Freddie's picture

Don't forget Democrat Bill Clinton was getting paid $50,000 a month from MF Worldwide as the looting was going on.

Chicago is all Democrats and it is Duffy, Rahm and all teh gangs of Chicago.

el Gallinazo's picture

And Bill Clinton, Duffy, and Rahm are Muslims also.

Grinder74's picture

" that Corzine may get a little fine from the Washington regulators"

"Little" is the key word here.  If the SEC and its ilk were actually doing their jobs, then Corzine would be driven into personal bankruptcy and assessed disgorgement and fines equal to 106% of his personal income and 183% of his net-worth.  Oh wait, that just happens to small fry who can't afford big time lawyers.

lynnybee's picture

...keep those articles coming, Nomi !    if her name is on it, i'm reading it.

GeneMarchbanks's picture

'UK Financial Services Authority (FSA.)'

Why in the hell does the UK even pretend with the FSA when any financial institution can hyper-hypothecate to infinity? That's like making murder legal but keeping the police pay checks flowing as long as a jay-walker is occasionally arrested and molested.

'Michael Stockman whose job description appeared to have included stroking Corzine's – er – ego, and to remain quiet about any trade concerns.'

Circle-jerk-o-rama. Nice for all those MBA grads to know.

Whalley World's picture

er, that would be inner circle jers o rama

tony bonn's picture

i am not in the least bit concerned about corzine's feigned amnesia....he only needs to be arrested and charged with criminal financial misconduct after which his amnesiac responses turn into 5th ammendment claims which in turn gives the prosecutor enormous leeway in constructing events against the perp....

corzine is a tool of the rockefeller-mic-yale-cia axis of evil....which means that his day in court may never come....

Deo vindice's picture

i am not in the least bit concerned about corzine's feigned amnesia....he only needs to be arrested and charged...

Right. Try using the "I forgot to pay my taxes" line and see if it gets you anywhere with the tax department.

I bet a closed door meeting between Corzine and Celente would jog the memory.

azusgm's picture

Didn't do his taxes, hopefully.

FrankDrakman's picture

Steve Martin too, although he had to say "Excuse me" when he was finished.

el Gallinazo's picture

Celente was being interviewed last week by Lauren Lyster on Capital Accounts.  She asked him what would he ask Corzine if he were a Senator.  Celente answered that it was a dumb question.  Any congressional hearing is a ridiculous venue.  The only meaningful venue is criminal court and he should be questioned by pros in the prosecutorial criminal fraud department.  Guys like Bill Black.

Mark Carney's picture

OT: zynga off to the races to zero, blows through 9 handle

vegas's picture

So I say again, Why the fuck would you keep money in the US and trade at the CME? Take the entire alphabet soup of porn-watching agencies plus the uber exchange CME and what you have is the largest criminal enterprise the world has ever seen. What does it take people? Seriously? And a few years from now [or sooner] when another CME FCM goes under and screws the public yet again, who will hear your screams of anguish?

Escapeclaws's picture

Extracting $500 million in austerity measures to balance the budget in NJ? Sounds like we should love this guy.  He took the tough measures needed for NJ to be in the black. Isn't it ironic that he's also a thief? How to reconcile the two--makes you kind of wonder about who is behind "balancing the buhjet" in Phil Gramm's words, another shining figure of American politics. Hint: if they're talking about austerity measures, there's probably a Goldman connection in there somewhere.  Compare Greece and Italy.

yogibear's picture

Corzine's gives a good dog and pony show. Expect Corzine to slip out of any responsibility. This proves fraud pays if you know the right people.

In the meantime the SEC is busy with Porn. The US is becoming more like Mexico with more and more corrupt officials.

The Big Ching-aso's picture



Historically, it's not a good idea to piss off sod busters.      Farmers can get down right onery when ya mess with putting food on their tables.

Sophist Economicus's picture

If Nomi is pooping all over Corzine, it must mean the White House is going to hang Jon-boy out to dry    Smells like the lefties are getting desperate...


Couldn't happen to a 'nicer' guy

Freddie's picture

If Corzine was a Republican then it would be a news item 24x7x365.  He would be in jail, where he belongs. 

I support Ron Paul not f***ing RINOs like Newt, McCain, Grahamnesty.

CEOoftheSOFA's picture

Corslime threw his treasurer under the bus.  When will we hear from her?

topshelfstuff's picture

I don't know if this link has been posted.

Max Keiser: JPMorgan Ordered Corzine to Pillage Personal Accounts at MF Global


~also~ isn't the question that should be sought/revealed, Who is on the Other (Winning) side of Corzine's supposedly dumb "Bet"....Why is it that the GS creation of giving Greece, perhaps other EU/PIGS, the false Financials along with the Knowledge that these countries would eventually implode, Overlooked???...wouldn't GS then create a Vehicle/Swap that makes Betting on this possible? All they would need then is "Dumb" Bettors....sounds like Mortgage Default set-up 2.0

Everyman's picture

My bet is there is a contract out on Corzine and the rest of those idiots.

Do they really think they can steal and blow off $1.2 BILLION DOLLARS and nobody is going to get pissed about it?  And you lose somebody's yacht, or mistress money, they aren't going to nail your ass to a barn door?  IF that is the expectation, then those people DESERVED to LOSE ALL THEIR MONEY to these idiots!!!

They need to stand up and stick a grenade up his ass, or put him in a wood chipper feet first.

Naw, there are contracts being let on these stupid greedy bumbling assholes, you can count on it.  As in "Trading Places" the worst thing you can do to a Rich Man is to make him a Poor Man.

topcallingtroll's picture

Corzine is going to be a target of a mafia hit most likely.

Never follow a pattern. Change your route and driving times each day.

His favorite friday evening restaurant or sunday brunch? I am confident that someone already knows about it and is developing a back up plan just in case the stolen money is not returned.

24 hour personal security wont make him safe. Best to hunker down. Keep the curtains drawn.

He might be safer in jail.

Whalley World's picture

if that's true, why is Madoff still alive?

GoldBricker's picture

Where do you think Madoff's stolen billions went? I'll put my money on a small country in the Middle East which no American politician dares to criticize, much less to ask awkward financial questions.

Madoff bought his protection. Maybe Corzine was alert enough to do the same.

Unholy Dalliance's picture

Is the answer Yemen? Am I right or am I right? Right, right, right, right, right!


Oh, by the way, your hatred of Jews is showing.



azusgm's picture

Is there a "donate now" button?

Papasmurf's picture

He knows too much.  The contracts may come from a man he made rich, not the one he made poor.

Big Corked Boots's picture

Not to be picky, but Drumthwacket is not "swanky." It's a termite infested dump that most governors avoid.

However the rest of the article is right on... Corzine is a piece of sh!t.

midgetrannyporn's picture

CEO = License to steal.

Bunga Bunga's picture

It's all Kim's fault.

Fred123's picture

Time to break out the guillotines....

yogibear's picture

Fraud will be allowed to perpetuate because nobody goes to jail for their financial crimes anymore.

Snakeeyes's picture

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the FHA, The Fed are all opaque. And Congress/Adm refuses to take transparency seriously. I pleaded for Fed transparency in my House testimony and have asked for improved GSE transparency as wlell.

FHFA is providing better GSE transparency, to be fair.

riley martini's picture

 The looting of Freddie and Fannie seems pretty transparent . The murder of CFO Kellerman right before the release of his report on Bribes and Bonuses was transparent . The $29 million bonsus to Rahm Emanuel and the $1.6 million bribe to Newy Gribgrich was transparent . You sound like Ron Paul you want a full written confession or are you running for office ?

Caviar Emptor's picture

Don't worry: the free market will self-regulate fraud and graft through bribery, blackmail and kickbacks. 

ThrivingAdmistCollapse's picture

That is true in theory, however, corruption of this magnitude might cause the "readjustment" to be an all out economic collapse.  And millions of innocent bystanders would suffer for the deeds of a handful of criminals.

TooBearish's picture

What is not mentioned in this very good comment is the FRAUDULENT bond issue done in August to the tune of 325MM that JC floated