CME Group released the following open letter to those it identifies as its customers:
CME Group is appalled by the recent misuse of segregated funds by two firms, MF Global Inc. and PFG, particularly since there has never been anything like it in the history of the futures industry.
Clearly there were serious management transgressions at each firm. But while these firms may have been at fault, it’s nevertheless our problem as an industry, and this problem needs a solution. Not protecting customer funds is such a fundamental breach of trust that, without question, the current system in which customer funds are held at the firm level must be re-evaluated. We are exploring the concept of having clearing houses or other depositories hold all customer segregated funds while returning any interest earned on that money back to the FCMs, increasing protections while preserving the operating model for the vast majority of firms who respect and comply by the rules.
The futures community has a strong history of working together to improve our industry. Congress, federal regulators, industry regulators, industry groups and CME are all working towards the same goal: to ensure that market users have confidence in all aspects of the industry, and that the appropriate protections are in place at every point in the system. Every link in the chain has to be as strong as the next. The businesses and individuals who rely on the futures markets to manage their risk rely on all of us to collectively manage their trust.
For CME Group, nothing is more important than the confidence customers have in our marketplace and the protection of our customers when using our markets. In conjunction with the NFA, CFTC and others, we have put in place and are in the process of implementing a number of new requirements designed to deter another firm from misusing customer funds. New requirements include:
- Increased surprise reviews of customer segregated funds
- Daily segregation reporting by all FCMs
- Bi-monthly reporting on investment of segregated funds
- Periodic electronic confirmation of customer segregation balances from firms via e-confirm system
- New rules providing direct online access to firm bank accounts to confirm segregation balances
- CEO/CFO signoffs of customer segregated fund distributions (Corzine rule)
While these significant steps will provide further safeguards to the users of our markets, and continue to make the system even stronger. We want you to know that CME Group is committed to making whatever changes are necessary to strengthen customer protections, restore confidence in the futures industry and ensure the effectiveness of these critical markets.