Articles Posted in MF Global

The trial in which a number of hedge funds and creditors are partly blaming PricewaterhouseCoopers for the collapse of MF Global is about to begin in U.S. District Court in New York. The plaintiffs, alleging malpractice involving “erroneous accounting advice,” are seeking over $3B in damages. Former MF Global CEO Jon Corzine, also an Ex-Goldman Sachs (GS) co-chairman and formerly both a New Jersey governor and US senator, is expected to testify in court.

MF Global, once a global financial derivatives broker, is no longer in business. The firm failed in 2011 after customers left when they learned that Corzine had placed big bets on European sovereign debt during a volatile time for the markets. This caused a $1.6B shortfall in client accounts.

Yet, because MF Global employed repo-to-maturity instruments to bet on the debt, this let the firm report the bets as gains, which enhanced the way its revenue looked. Also, clients’ funds were commingled with MF Global’s funds even though they should not have been mixed together.

Continue reading

According to the New York Times, Ex-MF Global Chairman and CEO Jon S. Corzine has reached a tentative agreement with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in the regulator’s civil case against him. The CFTC sued him 2013 after MF Global failed and the futures brokerage firm was accused of misusing $1B in customer funds. 
Corzine, 69, used to be the governor of New Jersey, a Democratic US Senator, and the co-chief of Goldman Sachs (GS). Although the settlement is not yet final,  sources tell the NY Times that Corzine could be expected to pay up to $5M in penalties, which is a lot more than what the CFTC could win against him at trial. The regulator would like Corzine to pay the penalties out of his own fund and not use insurance money. He also would be expected to accept a lifelong ban from trading other people’s funds in the futures industry.
Corzine has not been charged with any criminal wrongdoing related to the MF Global financial debacle. Although the CFTC has not said that Corzine was directly connected to the misuse of funds at the brokerage firm, the regulator felt that he failed to “diligently supervise” the firm as it placed clients’accounts  in peril.
MF Global went into a financial tailspin after Corzine made a $6.3B bet on European sovereign debt. Rather than restore the brokerage firm to profitability, the firm began to fail and the improper transfer of customer monies increased as executives sought to enhance liquidity. MF Global was eventually liquidated in bankruptcy. 

Continue reading

Now that it has repaid the majority of its customers, MF Global Inc. wants the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan to let it pay $295 million to its creditors. Most of the funds would go toward unsecured creditors, who would get a first distribution of approximately 20%. Holders of priority claims, as well as administrative and secured claims that were resolved, would get all of the money owed to them.

Giddens is also seeking to set up a reserve fund of over $400 for unresolved claims while placing a cap on how much each claim would get. MF Global has paid back the majority of its customers. Most of them got everything owed to them.

The brokerage firm and parent company MF Global Holdings Ltd. went into crisis when investors left after finding out that Jon S. Corzine, the CEO at the time and formerly a Goldman Sachs (GS) chairman and ex-governor of New Jersey, made big bets on European sovereign debt. Their departure created an approximately $1.6 billion shortfall in the accounts of customers that should have been kept separate from the firm’s money pool. The shortfall has since been recovered.

U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero has ordered MF Global to pay customers over $1.2 billion. The defunct brokerage firm left an about $1.6 billion shortfall for approximately 38,000 customers when it filed for bankruptcy protection in 2008.

Now, with this court order, along with the attempts of a liquidation trustee to get back the missing funds, customers are going to get almost all of their money back. Also, in addition to paying certain creditors and customers, MF Global will pay a $100 million penalty.

The brokerage tanked financially after it revealed that it had placed bets worth billions of dollars on high risk European debt. As customers started to leave MF Global in bulk and trading partners demanded bigger margin payments, the firm used customer funds for its own purposes (more than a billion dollars was taken out of their accounts) and did not replace them. This is not allowed. Also the estimated shortfall was about $1.6 billion.

According to bankruptcy trustee Louis Freeh, former MF Global Holdings (MFGLQ) CEO Jon Corzine and other former executives did not act in good faith when they were in charge of the company. The ex-FBI director is suing them in bankruptcy court for gross negligence and breach of fiduciary duty. (Corzine is also a former Goldman Sachs (GS) CEO and he previously served as a US Senator and the Governor of New Jersey). Also named as defendants are the firm’s ex-COO Bradley I. Abelow and ex-CFO Henri J. Steenkam. MF Global’s collapse left customers wondering where about $1.6 billion dollars of their funds had gone missing.

Per Freeh’s lawsuit, after becoming CEO, Corzine and the other executives “dramatically changed” MF Global’s business plan but failed to update certain systems, including poor controls that made it impossible for the company to figure out liquidity levels. Corzine then allegedly made the company place large bets on bonds put out by countries in Europe. Freeh believes that the executives knew the risks involved but ignored them.

The case comes after Freeh submitted a report about Corzine and other executives. The former FBI director had said he was going to hold off and try resolving the securities claims via mediation, but even with this process still ongoing, Freeh believes that moving ahead with the lawsuit is in creditors’ best interest.

According to Jon Corzine, the ex-CEO of MF Global Holdings Ltd. (MFGLQ), bankruptcy trustee James Giddens’s efforts to be part of some of the investor class action lawsuits against the firm’s former and current executives are negatively impacting his defense. Corzine, who is also Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s (GS) (GS) former co-chairman, left his position at MF Global last year, mere days after the brokerage giant failed in the wake of losses it sustained on European sovereign debt and its overwhelming inability to account for about $1.6 billion in customer funds. MF Global would go on to file for bankruptcy protection.

Rather than file his own securities lawsuit, Giddens has decided to work with the lawyers of the firm’s customers. He won’t join them as a plaintiff but he will “assign” his legal claims to their attorneys and fully participate in their cases. Giddens considers it totally “appropriate” for his office to join forces with the plaintiffs’ securities fraud lawsuits, and he believes that this cooperation agreement is the “most efficient, expedited and cost-effective” means of getting back additional assets for MF Global clients and creditors.

Meantime, Corzine and other ex- and current MF Global executives are complaining that this arrangement would give Giddens complete and total authority over the documents and books they would be able to get in their defense and that this unfairly limits them. Per the former executives’ lawyers, restricting the objectors’ rights to obtain discovery deprives them of the chance to a proper defense, violates due process principals, and is not in line with the goals and requirements of the federal rules that preside over civil litigation. (Also opposing Giddens’s cooperation agreement with the plaintiffs and their lawyers is ex-FBI director Louis Freeh, who is tasked with wrapping up MF Global Holdings Ltd.’s affairs. He believes that the deal oversteps Giddens’s authority and that the bankruptcy trustee is moving claims that belong to the holding company’s creditors and not the brokerage’s customers.)

The criminal probe into brokerage firm MF Global’s collapse and its inability to account for approximately $1.6 billion in customer funds will likely end with no criminal charges filed against anyone. Sources involved in the case are reportedly saying that investors are finding that not fraud, but “porous risk controls” and “chaos” caused the money to go missing.

At the time of MF Global’s bankruptcy filing almost 10 months ago, then-MF Global CEO Jon S. Corzine apologized to everyone saying that he also didn’t know what happen to the money. Meantime, thousands of customers saw their assets frozen.

According to a report by bankruptcy trustee James Giddens’, the brokerage company improperly used customer money that they are forbidden to tap so that it could stay in business and meet margin calls. Yet, still, is no one likely to be charged with wrongdoing?

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Martin Glenn says that MF Global Holdings Inc. can use approximately $21 million in cash collateral from JPMorgan Chase & Co, which is its mortgage lender. In issuing this decision, Glenn overruled customer objections that this money could be part of the $1.2B that has gone missing from their accounts. MF Global and JP Morgan have arrived at an agreement over how the cash will be used.

At the start of MF Global’s bankruptcy, JPMorgan had already consented to let the brokerage firm use $26M. This was per an agreement that would give the investment bank a lien on all MF Global assets.

It was just earlier this month that Glenn ruled that MF Global Inc. clients could recover 72% of what they lost when the broker-dealer filed for bankruptcy. Ruling against objections made by the brokerage firm’s creditors, he approved trustee James Giddens’ request. Per Glenn’s decision, MF Global’s clients can receive another $2.2 billion distribution, which lets them get back .72 on the dollar.

While the majority of the transfers were to go out within a few days, some were expected to take up to four weeks. In a separate decision, the Glenn approved transferring approximately 330 MF Global client securities accounts to Perrin, Holden & Davenport Capital Corp. MF Global has already moved approximately 38,000 commodities accounts to other financial firms.

Glen plans to tackle the issue of physical goods distribution, such as silver and gold bars, next month. Clients have complained about not being able to get their share of ownership of such items, which cannot be physically divided. HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) has even filed a lawsuit against Giddens. The financial firm is trying to determine whois the owner of the 15 silver bars and five gold bars underlying several Comex contracts between a client and MF Global.

Previous payouts to commodity clients are already at about $2 billion. However, some customers have said they didn’t receive any money from these initial payments.

In other MF Global-related news, CME Group has stopped issuing grants through its primary foundation in the wake of the brokerage firm’s bankruptcy filing. The Chicago-based commodities exchange had issued $22 million to Chicago-area schools and charities in the last five years. CME has said that it will continue to support charitable organizations through other corporate foundations and programs.

In November, CME said it would give ex- MF Global customers the $50 million that was held by CME Trust. Originally meant to assist traders, the trust had turned into a primary source of charitable giving for the exchange operator.

Exclusive: CME Trust’s charity grants halt on MF failure, Reuters, December 18, 2011

MF Global Wins Permission to Use JPMorgan’s Cash as Judge Suggests Probe, Bloomberg, December 14, 2011

MF Global clients get back 72 cents on the dollar, Bloomberg/Investment News, December 9, 2011

More Blog Posts:

$1.2 Billion of MF Global Inc.’s Clients Money Still Missing, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, December 10, 2011

MF Global Shortfall May Be More than $1.2B, Says Trustee, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, November 26, 2011

MF Global Holdings Ltd. Files for Bankruptcy While Its Broker Faces Liquidation and Securities Lawsuit by SIPC, Institutional Investor Securities Blog, October 31, 2011

Continue reading