MF Global's former chief Jon Corzine told Congress Thursday that he doesn't know where the failed brokerage firm's missing client money is and that he inherited a firm doomed by the risks his predecessors took.
"The firm reported losses in five consecutive quarters before I arrived," he told the House Agriculture Committee after being sworn in by committee Chairman Frank Lucas.
Yet Corzine accepted responsibility for the firm's risky bets and says its customers' losses weigh on his mind "every day, every hour."
"My hope, my expectation is that the money will be recovered," he said, deflecting questions as to whether he anticipates any loss to his own personal funds.
The former U.S. senator was subpoenaedto explain how MF Global, which he led for about 20 months, collapsed into the eighth-largest bankruptcy in U.S. history and why an estimated $1.2 billion in client funds remains unaccounted for.
"I simply do not know where the money is, or why the accounts have not been reconciled to date," he said, adding, "We've got to find the money."
Thursday's hearing marks Corzine's first public appearance since he resigned as CEO on Nov. 3.
Questioned directly about the transactions leading to over $1 billion in missing client funds, Corzine could not offer clarification.
"I never intended to break any rules. I'm not in a position given the number of transactions to know about the movement of any specific funds. I certainly would never intend to have segregated funds moved," said Corzine.
Corzine was clear, however, that he "does not believe" that customer funds have been invested in sovereign debt. Instead of offering a plausible alternative explanation, he said "transferring customer funds is a complex process."