(Bloomberg News) Jon S. Corzine told U.S. lawmakers he never intended to break any rules as head of MF Global Holdings Ltd. and doesn't know what happened to an estimated $1.2 billion in missing client funds.
"I'm not in a position, given the number of transactions, to know anything specifically about the movement of any specific funds," Corzine said yesterday at a House Agriculture Committee hearing in Washington. "I certainly would never intend to direct or have segregated funds moved."
Under subpoena and under oath, the former Democratic senator and New Jersey governor testified on Capitol Hill for 2 1/2 hours, repeatedly apologizing to investors, customers and employees of the failed New York brokerage.
"I simply do not know where the money is, or why the accounts have not been reconciled to date," Corzine said. "I apologize, both personally and on behalf of the company, to our customers, our employees and our investors. I truly know that they are bearing the brunt" of the collapse.
Corzine said he didn't knowingly authorize any movement of funds out of client accounts, and that any such transfers could have been a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of his intent.
He said that on the evening of Oct. 30, the night before MF Global filed what has become the eighth-largest U.S. bankruptcy, he was informed of the shortfall in client accounts and told employees, "We've got to fix this" and "We've got to find the money." He speculated that someone "could misinterpret" such remarks.
Corzine didn't once decline to answer a question or invoke his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
James W. Giddens, the trustee overseeing the liquidation of the firm, has estimated that $1.2 billion in client money is missing. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission and Justice Department are investigating.
James Kobak, a lawyer for Giddens, testified at the hearings yesterday that the trustee will pursue all "legally available" assets, including those from individuals who may have liability for breaking the rules requiring protection of commodity customers' accounts. He also said customers now have no assurance of a 100 percent return of their assets because of the money that is missing.
Also testifying at yesterday's hearings was Jill Sommers, a commissioner at the CFTC, who said that regulators are still working to trace all the transactions and that some client funds may be recovered.
"If there is any customer money that has been transferred out of the accounts, that is part of what we are working together to find, and that money will be clawed back to be distributed back to customers," Sommers, the commissioner overseeing the agency's investigation of MF Global, told the committee.