Speculation from New York and Washington, D.C., is that no high-level officials of MF Global will be criminally prosecuted for the $1 billion in customer money, including a large amount of farmer money, used to try and stave off MF Global’s bankruptcy. The bankruptcy occurred anyway, costing customers all their money.
The investigation for criminal charges has lasted 10 months, and in typical fashion, the federal investigators started with the low-level employees and are anticipated to end soon with an interview of Jon Corzine, the former chief of the company. Most of the speculation is that the Department of Justice is still unable to trace where the wrongdoing began and ended.
As the New York Times noted in an article this week, typically, if a high-level employee is going to be charged there isn’t an interview, charges are filed instead. As for civil charges from regulators, such as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the future is even more unknown at this point, but agencies that could file a civil suit have a lower level of proof to convict officials, especially the top executives.
Corzine has testified before Congress about the transfer of money to cover at least one overdrawn account, but proof that he knew the money was coming from customer accounts is the hard situation to prove.
As can be easily understood, criticism of not filing charges against Corzine appears to repeat the frustration of 2008 when the Department of Justice didn’t hold Wall Street executives accountable for the financial collapse. Comments by many observers are that risky investments are much less of a crime than raiding customer accounts, and this should result in felony charges.
“A $6.3 billon wager on the European sovereign debt proved fatal. The size of the bet was enough to wipe out the firm many times over, and as questions about Europe’s health grew, a run on MF Global ensued. In the panic, the firm tapped customer money to stay afloat, which scuttled a last-minute deal to save the firm. Mr. Corzine resigned just days after the firm filed for bankruptcy,” the New York Times succinctly explained.