MF Global’s counsel resisted giving assurances on transfers

A matter of symantics

Narrower Language

In her testimony, Ferber said she spoke to officials at the bank on Oct. 28 and requested that they narrow the language.

“I then spoke to the person in Chicago whom JPMorgan identified in the certificate and was given the understanding that she would sign the certificate if it were limited to the two transactions the bank had expressed interest in,” she said.

Ferber doesn’t identify the individual in Chicago. She conferred a second time with JPMorgan, which complied with the request and provided a new draft with narrower language the next day. Ferber turned the revised draft over to a colleague and wasn’t involved in discussions after that point, she said.

The letter was never signed, according to the House memo.

Diane M. Genova, JPMorgan’s deputy general counsel, is scheduled to testify on the bank’s role during MF Global’s final days. Daniel J. Roth, the president and chief executive officer of the National Futures Association, and Susan M. Cosper, the technical director of the Financial Accounting Standards Board, are also scheduled to testify.

European Debt

MF Global and its brokerage sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Oct. 31 after a $6.3 billion bet on the bonds of some of Europe’s most indebted nations prompted regulator concerns and credit rating downgrades. Corzine quit MF Global Nov. 4.

A spokesman for Corzine, Steven Goldberg, said last week that the former MF Global CEO “never gave any instruction to misuse customer funds and never intended anyone at MF Global to misuse customer funds.”

Corzine made similar statements during an appearance before the House panel in December and said that he doesn’t know where client funds went.

“I never intended anyone at MF Global to misuse customer funds and I don’t believe that anything I said could reasonably have been interpreted as an instruction to misuse customer funds,” Corzine told lawmakers at the December hearing.

O’Brien is scheduled to appear before lawmakers this week along with Christine Serwinski, another MF Global executive, and Henri Steenkamp, the firm’s chief financial officer.

Steenkamp, in his testimony, said he had “limited knowledge” of the movement of segregated customer funds in the final days before the firm’s failure. Steenkamp said he understood that lawmakers would have questions about the missing funds.

“I share many of these questions and I am personally extremely frustrated and distressed that they remain outstanding and the client funds have not been paid in full,” Steenkamp said in his prepared remarks.

Bloomberg News

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