6. Edith O’Brien
Assistant Treasurer of MF Global
Among the enduring images of the MF Global bankruptcy is that of a tight-lipped Edith O’Brien refusing to testify in front of the House Financial Services Committee. While many of her fellow executives agreed to offer up their accounts, however opaque, of the brokerage’s collapse, O’Brien invoked her Fifth Amendment rights in response to each of the committee’s questions. Her former boss, Jon Corzine, had previously said that O’Brien wrongly told him that a $200 million money transfer did not involve customer money.
That assertion was called into question, however, when Congressional investigators found an email in which O’Brien said that the transfer was made “per [Jon Corzine’s] direct instructions”; investigators also said in a memo that O’Brien was “reluctant” to sign off on JPMorgan’s request for assurances that no customer money was involved in the transfer.