When was the last time anybody saw Jon Corzine?
For several days following the bankruptcy of MF Global, Corzine was regularly appearing in the office. Sources at MF Global told me he spent his days in conference rooms with teams of lawyers and accountants. Then he abruptly resigned as chief executive.
And for his next act, he vanished.
Corzine is not an ordinary chief executive. As a former US Senator and former Governor of New Jersey, he is a public figure. He was even under consideration to be the next Treasury Secretary.
As one of the few people who can answer questions about what happened to MF Global—how it went from a healthy midsized commodities brokerage to a fatality—Corzine should be in front of the public offering explanations. He used publicity to climb his way to the top of America's power-structure, and now he's trying to hide. This seems unfair.
The explanation, no doubt, is that his lawyers have told him to keep quiet. They realize that there is a very high risk that civil and criminal cases may be filed against Corzine. As they say on the cop shows, anything he says can and will be used against him.
This strategy may protect Corzine legally. But it won't save his reputation.
Every day of silence, every day of invisibility, just adds to the public impression that Corzine is not an honorable man.
The legal system may have to presume people innocent until proven guilty. It may have to promise not to hold silence against the accused. But ordinary thinking people are under no such constraints.
Corzine may be able to hide from cameras. Perhaps even from the Senate's panel investigating the collapse of MF Global. But he can't hide from public suspicion. And silence will never save his reputation.
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