MF Global's Corzine Ordered Transfer of Client Funds: Memo

MF Global CEO Jon Corzine authorized the transfer of $200 million in customer funds to cover a shortfall just before the broker-dealer collapsed last year, according to a congressional memo.

Jon Corzine MF Global testimony
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Jon Corzine MF Global testimony

The $200 million transfer in customer funds from a JPMorgan account was made to cover a $175 million overdraft in one of MF Global's accounts in London, the memo said.

In an October 2011 email, just days before the firm's collapse, former MF Global assistant treasurer Edith O'Brien said the transfer was being made "Per JC's (Jon Corzine's) direct instructions," according to the memo.

"Recognizing the liquidity stress that MF Global was operating under, JPMorgan Chase sought to validate the appropriateness of the transfer," the memo says. "JPMC Chief Risk officer Barry Zubrow called Mr. Corzine directly to seek assurances that the funds transferred to cover the overdraft funds that belonged to MF Global and not customer funds." (Click for the entire memo)

Steven Goldberg, a spokesman for Corzine, noted that Corzine did ask that the JPMorgan overdraft be corrected, but never gave any instructions to misuse customer funds.

"He never directed Ms. O'Brien or anyone else regarding which account should be used to cure the overdrafts, and he never directed that customer funds should be used for that purpose," Goldberg said.

In updating regulators about MF Global's negotiations with potential buyers and the firm's asset sales, Corzine identified Interactive Brokers and JPMorgan Chase as the parties "most interested in purchasing MF Global," according to the memo.

MF Global, which the former U.S. senator led for about 20 months, collapsed in October and became the eighth-largest bankruptcy in U.S. history. More than $1.2 billion in client cash has disappeared.

Corzine told Congress Dec. 8 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 memo, released late Friday, is from the House Financial Service Committee, which has scheduled a hearing on the latest revelations for next Wednesday.

Among those called to be witnesses are O'Brien, the assistant treasurer who said Corzine authorized the transfer, and a representative of JPMorgan Chase.

—Reuters contributed to this report.