Jesse for the article
MF Global: Crime, Comedy and the Cover-Up
By Janet Tavakoli
2/28/2012 5:37 am
MF Global's October 2011 bankruptcy was the eighth largest bankruptcy by assets in the United States. James Giddens, the bankruptcy trustee, issued a press release on February 6 stating that his investigation found that money from customer accounts that was supposed to be segregated was improperly used to fund MF Global's daily activities. Improper transfers of customer money occurred regularly in amounts under $50 million before MF Global's bankruptcy. MF Global wasn't caught, because it put the money back before customers knew it was missing.
On January 30, 2012 the Wall Street Journal did a hilariously bad job of reporting when its front page article stated that a "person close to the investigation" said that as a result of chaotic trading in the week before MF Global's October 31 bankruptcy, customers' money "vaporized." Money doesn't vaporize. It's true that tracing money transfers can be tedious, but that's why we call it work.
As for the Wall Street Journal's article, the editor should have made it vaporize. I was having breakfast with several traders at Chicago's East Bank Club. One trader read the passage aloud. The entire table burst out laughing. Then he got up and ceremoniously threw the paper in the trash. The entire table applauded.
Fox Business News had people in stitches when it reported that federal investigators are saying that this wasn't criminal, it's just a matter of sloppy bookkeeping.
The habitual filching of customers' funds -- even if the funds are later replaced -- goes way beyond sloppy bookkeeping. It goes way beyond bad judgment. Just because MF Global got away with it for a long time before it blew up in its face doesn't mean one can call it sloppy bookkeeping and have any reasonable person believe it. If federal investigators and law enforcement people want to make public statements like this, one should investigate corruption in their ranks. They seem to be providing undeserved excuses as a trial balloon to see if it will fly. Nice try, but it's not working.
According to the bankruptcy trustee, money was repeatedly filched from customers' accounts. That goes way beyond sloppy bookkeeping.
Senior officials of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and of MF Global's regulator, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), have already testified to Congress their belief that MF Global violated regulations -- it broke the law -- because using customers funds, money that was supposed to be in segregated accounts, to pay off MF Global's creditors or to use that money to fund MF Global's day-to-day operations is not permitted.
MF Global CEO Jon Corzine, a former head of Goldman Sachs, signed off on statements that said his internal controls were adequate. After Enron, the Sarbanes Oxley Act was meant to assure Americans that officers that signed such statements would be held accountable for their accuracy....
Read the rest here.