Former MF Global Holdings Ltd. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jon S. Corzine’s risky business strategies and mismanagement helped accelerate the futures brokerage’s demise, according to a report by bankruptcy trustee Louis Freeh.
The 124-page report blames Corzine and his management team for bungling an expansion of the company’s traditional business model while ignoring deficiencies in its risk controls. Corzine’s “aggressive trading strategy” that invested heavily in European sovereign debt produced no significant revenue, and he and Chief Financial Officer Henri Steenkamp knew that the company’s controls were flawed as early as May 2010, according to the filing today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan.
Capital and liquidity assumptions “were fatally flawed, even though Corzine and other members of his management team knew about their deficiencies many months before they were stretched to their limits” in October 2011, lawyers for Freeh said in the report.
The parent company of brokerage MF Global Inc. filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 31, 2011, after a wrong-way $6.3 billion trade on its own behalf on bonds of some of Europe’s most- indebted nations. The company, once run by former Democratic New Jersey Governor and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Co-Chairman Corzine, listed assets of $41 billion and debts of $39.7 billion.
“I don’t see any criminal allegations in here,” Stuart Slotnick, a lawyer with Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC’s New York office, said of Freeh’s report. Corzine and other MF Global officials probably won’t face criminal charges at this point, as no evidence has arisen of fraud, purposeful misstatements, lying or intentional hiding of assets, he said.
Randall Samborn, a spokesman for acting Chicago U.S. Attorney Gary Shapiro, today declined to comment when asked if any probe of Corzine or the firm is under way there.
Freeh’s findings come five months after U.S. House Republicans also faulted Corzine’s leadership in a report released in November. That report, reached by majority Republicans on a Financial Services subcommittee, described a lack of coordination between the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission, primary regulators for MF Global’s U.S. operations.
Freeh has been unwinding the company under Chapter 11 bankruptcy in an effort to repay creditors. James Giddens, a separate trustee for the failed brokerage arm, is liquidating assets to repay customers under the Securities Investor Protection Act.