Posted: March 23, 2012
In congressional testimony, the former New Jersey governor said he did not know where missing customer funds had gone.
Former New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine directly ordered that $200 million from a segregated customer account be transfered to cover a $175 million overdraft in a London account. That's according to a memo (pdf) from the House Committee on Financial Services, which is scheduled to hold a hearing next week about the spectacular collapse of MF Global.
As The Wall Street Journal reads the memo, the $200 million transfer "contributed to an estimated $1.6 billion shortfall in customer funds when the securities firm collapsed."
According the memo, the transfer happened on Oct. 28, 2011. On that same day, MF Global Treasurer Vinay Mahajan sent an email demanding that the segregated customer account be "refunded ASAP," because it was "holding up vital business in the U.S. ..."
Edith O'Brien, who was an assistant treasurer at MF Global and is scheduled to appear at the hearing on Wednesday, replied by email that the transfer was "Per JC's [Jon Corzine's] direct instructions."
"Over the course of that week, MF Global's financial position deteriorated, but the firm represented to its regulators and self-regulatory organizations that its customers' segregated funds were safe," the memo reads.
The big deal here is that in congressional testimony, Corzine has insisted he did not order customer funds moved. Bloomberg explains:
"The money transferred came from a segregated customer account, according to congressional investigators. Segregated accounts can include customer money and excess company funds.
"Corzine testified that he never intended a misuse of customer funds at MF Global, and that he doesn't know where client funds went.
"'I did not instruct anyone to lend customer funds to anyone,' Corzine told lawmakers in December."
In a prepared statement, Corzine added, "I simply do not know where the money is, or why the accounts have not been reconciled to date."
Update at 7:10 p.m. ET. Corzine Stands By His Testimony:
A spokesman for Corzine sent WNYC's Ilya Marritz the following statement:
"As Mr. Corzine testified before Congress, he asked that the overdrafts with JP Morgan be corrected. As he also testified, he never gave any instruction to misuse customer funds and never intended anyone at MF Global to misuse customer funds. He further testified that he didn't believe anything he said could reasonably have been interpreted as an instruction to misuse customer funds. He stands by that testimony.
"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. Nor was he informed that customer funds had been used for that purpose. To the contrary, as Mr. Corzine testified, he recalls having received written material indicating that the funds used to cure the overdrafts were appropriate for that purpose."
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