Someone Is Going To Jail For This: MF Global Caught Stealing Hundreds Of Millions From Customers?

Tyler Durden's picture

Say you are the head back office guy at MF Global, it is the close of trading on Thursday, the firm has already completely drawn down on its revolver, and all the resulting cash in addition to all the firm's cash at your disposal in affiliated bank accounts, up to and including petty cash, has been used to satisfy margin demands due to declining collateral value, yet the collateral calls just won't stop, and impatient voices on the other side of the phone line demand you transfer even more cash over immediately or else risk default proceedings commenced against you within minutes. What do you do? Do you go ahead and tell your superior that the firm is broke even though the co-opted media is trumpeting every 5 minutes that "MF Global is fine", knowing full well you will be immediately fired for being the bearer of bad news, or do you assume that courtesy of your uber-boss being the former head of the Vampire Squid, and thanks to infinite moral hazard which after Lehman made sure nobody would ever fail ever again, that there is simply no way that you will be left without some miraculous rescue, if only you can last one more day, and as a result proceed to "commingle" some client funds with the firm's cash. It turns out that at MF Global you do the latter... over and over... until you have literally stolen hundreds of millions from the firm's client accounts in hopes that the miracle rescue will come on Friday... then over the weekend... and then you realize no miracle is coming, partly because your actions have been exposed, partly because miracles only exist in fairy tales. The next thing you know, your firm is bankrupt and hundreds of clients are about to learn that all their money is gone. Poof. This is not a fictional tale. This is precisely what very likely happened at MF Global in the past 72 hours. And someone has to go to jail. That someone, if indeed this criminal act is proven to have taken place, should be none other than Jon Corzine himself.

The sad truth of just how low Wall Street has fallen comes to us courtesy of the New York Times:

Federal regulators have discovered that hundreds of millions of dollars in customer money have gone missing from MF Global in recent days, prompting an investigation into the company’s operations as it filed for bankruptcy on Monday, according to several people briefed on the matter.


The revelation of the missing money scuttled an 11th hour deal for MF Global to sell a major part of itself to a rival brokerage firm. MF Global, the powerhouse commodities brokerage run by Jon S. Corzine, had staked its survival on completing the deal.

As for the details:

What began as nearly $1 billion missing had dropped to less than $700 million by late Monday. It is unclear where the money went, and some money is expected to trickle in over the coming days as the firm sorts through the bankruptcy process, the people said.


But regulators are examining whether MF Global diverted some customer money to support its own trades as the firm teetered on the brink of collapse. If that was the case, it could violate a fundamental tenet of Wall Street regulation: Customers’ money must be kept separate from company money.

And just like in the Lehman collapse where tens if not hundreds of international prime brokerage hedge fund clients, due to no fault of their own, found themselves insolvent after their cash ended up being caught at the London Lehman office (the details of how that money was illegally transferred from London to the US is a different topic entirely) and never to be seen again except to satisfy general unsecured claims, so thousands of MF clients are about to realize that money they thought they had, even if completely unencumbered with other assets, read pure cash, read money not at risk, is now gone forever, and they will have to wait years until the bankruptcy process determines if the claim deserves priority status to the unsecured bondholders. Best case: assume a 70% haircut on the money, if it is every to be seen again at all.

So who can be sued? Who can be blamed for this malicious and purposeful criminal act? Why everyone from the back office clerk presented in the thought experiment above, all the way up to the man at the very top, Jon himself, who, like in every other act of Wall Street impropriety will plead stupidity and deny he ever knew of this crime. Unfortunately, our criminal regulators, who will be just as complicit in clearing him of all wrongdoing, will aid and abet this latest destruction of faith in US capitalism.

What happens next? Why customers at all other brokerages, all other exchanges, afraid that their money will suffer the same fate as MF, even if they transact with perfect solvent clearers and agents, will proceed to pull their money, as they know they have nobody to trust but their own prudent and forward looking actions. Which in turn will start the kind of liquidity drain that killed not only Lehman, but froze money markets, and with that brought the complete capital markets to a standstill, only to be thawed after the Fed pledged multiples of the US GDP to rescue Wall Street in October of 2008.

And that, dear reader, is called unintended consequences, and how the bankruptcy of a small exchange can avalanche into a crippling Ice Nine of what is left of capital markets all over again, courtesy of crony capitalism, rampant criminality and a regulator and enforcement body that is more fascinated with midget porn than any regulating or enforcing of the very firms it hopes to get an assistant general counsel job from in a few short years.

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Mohan's picture
We have regulators? In the United Corporations of America? News to me.
Carlyle Groupie's picture

All of whom are ex-Goldman employees.

Pladizow's picture

This is testimoney to the fact that you cannot regulate fraud and no matter the degree of regulation, wall street will not change.

Without fraud and war, America has NO business model!

Hedgetard55's picture

Don Corzine (proper pronunciation in Italian: Cor-zeen-eh, similar to Don Barzini in The Godfather) has the FED regulators in his pocket like so many nickels and dimes.

eureka's picture


Cynical Sidney's picture

we have an obligation to bail out diligent working banksters from MF global, so we can arrest criminals who produce nothing of value such as the occupy wall street protesters and put them in jail for the rest of their lives.


Comay Mierda's picture

Baseball bat ----> corzine's kneecaps Warren G style regulators

flacon's picture

At least he didn't defile the mens rooms along the New Jersey turnpike like the other governator ("I-am-a-gay-americn"-McGreevey) did. Why did Thain need a golden bathroom at Merrill Lynch?

Schmuck Raker's picture

I can't believe no one's re-posted this, so(2nd time/TD approved)

"...aaand it's gone"

Fish Gone Bad's picture

+1  aaaaand it's gone is ALWAYS funny.


TruthInSunshine's picture

I've been on an (admittedly) annoying off topic sequence (3 straight posts now) today/tonight, but I wouldn't be doing it if it weren't noteworthy 411 and regarding things I thought you'd all find highly interesting, if not downright incredible.


From tonight's New York Times (essentially, the New York Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank disregarded higher ups and refused to insist on haircuts for counterparties to insolvent entities such as AIG and others, putting taxpayers on the hook for far more than should have been the case [assuming the bailouts were legal, ethical - given conflicts of interest -, or prudent, in the first place]).

What the New York Fed could have gotten for 10 cents on the dollar, they refused, and insisted on using tax dollars to pay full face (inflated wildly) value for toxic sludge to ensure their VIP friends such as Goldman and JPM got fully paid on their CDS bets with the likes of AIG.

Sweet deal for banksters. No shame. No ethics. No limits in the ways and manner in which they shaft the taxpayers and grease the cronyistic, nepotistic, kleptocratic revolving door between the New York Fed and the Chosen Wall Street Investment 'Firms' doing such a great national service for the economy.

And who was the head of the New York Fed when this all took place? Why none other than Timmmmay Geithner, of course, of course.

Report Says New York Fed Didn’t Cut Deals on A.I.G.

New York Times 37 minutes ago

In paying the full amounts A.I.G. owed financial companies, the New York Fed disregarded the expectations of senior Fed officials in Washington.

WASHINGTON — The findings of a federal investigation released Monday raised new questions about the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s handling of the 2008 bailout of American International Group.

The report, by the Government Accountability Office, says that New York Fed officials have offered inconsistent explanations for their decision to pay other financial companies the full amounts they were owed by A.I.G., and that some of the explanations were contradicted by other evidence.

The report also asserts that the decision to pay the full amounts, rather than seeking concessions as the government later did in other cases, disregarded the expectations of senior Fed officials in Washington and the expressed willingness of some of the companies to accept smaller payments.

In one case, when a company offered to accept a smaller amount of money, officials at the New York Fed responded that they had decided to pay the full amount of the debt, the report said.


Report Says New York Fed Didn’t Cut Deals on A.I.G.

lunaticfringe's picture

I'm ready to start stretching necks.

TruthInSunshine's picture

Trav questioned why I posted what I did above twice now, which is a fair question.

My response was as follows:

It's significant enough that I believed posting it twice had merit.

In fact, it warrants a headline from ZH.

That the Government Accountability Office has essentially accused the New York Fed (headed by Geithner, at the time) of lying with respect to the reasons for paying the amounts it did to counterparties of AIG, during the largest bailout and backstop of Wall Street in American History, is highly extraordinary.

strannick's picture


Someone is going to jail for this

Yeah, it'll be the accountants assistant copyboy.

Widowmaker's picture

Yep, record bonuses commence in 3...2...

No one saw it coming, no one.

Hephasteus's picture

I thought goldman had a brown guy service.

Hello I need another brown guy. Bit of trouble here.

Michael's picture

I too have reposted things of relevance I thought to get more audience than the previous thread had eyeballs on it.


The Jews monetary system really sucks and their financial product innovations they peddle to us are sucky as well.

It has nothing to do with Jews being Jews. It has to do with the really sucky product.

I'm looking forward to a Constitutional Currency once again. 

TheLooza's picture

We want the Money, Corzowksi. Bunny says you're good for it.  Where's the money Corzowksi? Where's the money Corzowksi?  Where's the fucking money shithead!!!!!

Raging Debate's picture

Some games are played in 5d. The joke of the devil was indeed on the American people. Let's make sure it doesn't become hillarity. I actually like all peoples of this world and to magnify large global losses carved into flesh is not a game that should be played.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

WHAT, WHAT, WHAT, WHY, WHY, WHY was I screaming about Jon Corzine earlier today???!!!

He is the dirtiest POS on planet Earth!

Manthong's picture

This should be pretty good.

I bet there are a number of liberal notables that have been Maddof'd by Corzine.

crazyjsmith's picture

They must safely remove the client from their money.
Those barriers must be strong and irrevocable.

grey7beard's picture

>> I bet there are a number of liberal notables

Brilliant, make this a liberal/conservative issue.  There's a recipe for more of the same.

Xavier Doe's picture

It is, where the objectivity of the press is concerned.

Were Corzine an "evil Republican" instead of a press-coddled Democrat, this assiduously downplayed "non-story" would have already erupted at full volume, blasting 24 hours a day on news networks everywhere, and his name would've been dragged through the mud several times over by now.

Instead we get "let's be cautious, not jump to conclusions".  Tell that to Herman Cain, whose staff was last seen waiting for Godot^H^H^H^H^H treatment in kind from these zealous caution-mongers.

Bwahaha WAGFDSMB's picture

Economic hit man?  Who was he really working for?

Careless Whisper's picture

I'm just wondering if JC Flowers is the next domino to fall?


Fukushima Sam's picture

I'm sure everything is just fine over at Corzine's.

optimator's picture


I can find only one redeeming quality in Jon. He generously spent 100 million dollars of his own ill gotten gains, er, I mean money, to get elected to the Senate where he could "help" himsel, er I mean help the country. Waddaguy!  
Widowmaker's picture

Those seasoned in politics may uncomfortably tell you, politics IS the exit strategy for far too many criminals.

Unfortunately, this is usually realized late after the fact.

MF Global was one big private bailout, the end. Im wondering if It was set up to fail every step of the way...

Howard_Beale's picture


tickhound's picture

"At Goldman, we recognize that the capitalist system as we know it is circling the drain – but there’s plenty of money to be made on the way down." - HB

MF Global reminds me of "Goldman Sachs Global Rage Fund*" - HB tm*

a classic. 

redguard's picture

So your saying he"s Italian.....

Breaker's picture

I think Obama will throw him under the bus. Eggs must be broken to make an omlette and members of the ruling class understand that periodically, a few of them must be sacrificed to achieve their the blessing of peace and prosperity for the class as a whole. Corzine will get an easy sentence and much of his fortune will remain intact. But he will likely go down. 

This will be a cheap ond easy way to deflect popular anger from a bloated, all-powerful government to "Wall Street," who are obviously responsible for the failure of Obama's noble progressive vision. And it will shore up the radical base without alienating independents because Corzine probably does deserve jail time. It will also give Eric Holder something to do besides defending shipping automatic weapons to drug cartels. Corzine should be looking at the correlation of forces against him--he has no friends among Republicans or conservatives and he will be looking like a pretty juicy sacrificial lamb for the administration. He should be striving to find some tapes of Obama, Pelosi and Reid with dead children and putting them in a very secure place.

tarsubil's picture

And when you say "throw him under the bus" you mean "give him a couple hundred million for his official retirement", right?

Haole's picture

"Without fraud and war, America has NO business model!"


There's still porn and doughnuts!

Pladizow's picture

Perhaps you should franchise a combination of the both?!?!

Could give new meaning to "Time to make the doughnuts".

UP4Liberty's picture

How 'bout "Time to make the blow-nutz!"?

Dingleberry's picture

DOn't forget we have the tattoo industry now also......

Bollixed's picture

Finally, somebody who sees the big picture...

Melin's picture

pish tosh.  Fraud is punishable under the Constitution.  "Regulating" fraud is the status quo and breeds the corruption you pretend to want eliminate.  

America's business model is voluntary trade for mutual benefit.  Fight to end the regulations and trade with people and companies who've earned your trust.

eatthebanksters's picture

You can regulate fraud real successfully using the simple Chinese method.  Guilty parties are shot in the back of the head and the bill for the cost of the bullet is sent to the family ofthe executed.  We should use golden bullets on these guys and gals!

anonnn's picture

Pladizow- and "you cannot [effectively and directly] regulate fraud"...

Arguably true, and clearly true that you canot effectively regulate insider trading.

But both can be indirectly regulated with effectiveness acceptible to serve real fairness, aka justice, that has nearly always been absent.

Namely, there are ways to set limits on income/profits that can be easily monitored and exposed.

How? Locate 20 of the brightest persons, by demonstrated background accomplishments in any scientific disciplines.  Define the general problem or undesired situation and let them, individually and in groups of their own choosing, come up with workable solutions.

 Publish their solutions/suggestions publicly and their views on each of the solutions/suggestions exactly as they are offerred, without editing by outsiders. After a period of public debate, let Congress decide how to procede, with any plans for actual implemenation being first reopened to public comment by the 20 individuals before proceding.

Bollixed's picture

That's how we got into this mess. Fooled ourselves into thinking the mental elite had better masterbatory habits than the rest of us so we gave them ivory towers to make their proclamations from. Then we bowed to their prowess, looked at each other and said "Yea, I'll go with that" not even realizing we were relying on other fools.