(Bloomberg News) MF Global Holdings Ltd.'s brokerage customers, facing a $1.6 billion gap in funds, will eventually recoup between 90 percent and all of their money, according to the trustees overseeing the liquidation.
James W. Giddens, the trustee overseeing the MF Global Inc. unit's bankruptcy, made the remarks about the 90 percent distribution yesterday at a U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee hearing in Washington.
Giddens commented after Louis Freeh, bankruptcy trustee for MF Global's holding company, said it was his belief customers would eventually recoup all their money. He said he based his conclusion on estimates of the return of customer funds from foreign jurisdictions and settlements obtained by Giddens's office.
U.S. lawmakers called for the hearing to oversee the response to the MF Global downfall and the recent collapse of Peregrine Financial Group Inc., which has left about $220 million in client funds unaccounted. The failures, which are being probed by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Justice Department among others, have undermined confidence in the futures market and spurred calls for new rules, according to lawmakers and regulators.
The CFTC's investigation into MF Global could lead to allegations that rules governing fund segregation and supervision of customer accounts were violated, Jill E. Sommers, a Republican commissioner and senior agency member overseeing the probe, said at the hearing. The CFTC's enforcement unit could also file an action against corporate entities or individuals, including management.
Giddens has distributed about 80 percent of what commodity future customers are owed, he said. The largest disputes with claimants include those with the company's U.K. Joint Special Administrators. A trial is expected to start in April to resolve a dispute over $700 million of customer funds.
Giddens is still evaluating creditor and customer claims, and may litigate those where an agreement can't be reached on what the brokerage owes. He said he still sees lawsuits against former MF Global Chief Executive Officer Jon S. Corzine, former chief financial officer Henri Steenkamp and former assistant treasurer Edith O'Brien, among others, as a way to recover more money for creditors.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. has already returned $89.2 million in customer property and $518.4 million in other assets.