Jon Corzine, a former senator, governor, and CEO of Goldman Sachs, has a new former title today. Corzine has voluntarily resigned as CEO of MF Global after the company filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday, the press is reporting. Reuters calls the resignation the culmination of "a rapid downfall for one of Wall Street's best-known executives." "I feel great sadness for what has transpired at MF Global and the impact it has had on the firm's clients, employees and many others," Corzine said in a statement, Reuters and Bloomberg News report. The bankruptcy came of the heels an October 25 presentation that showed "MF Global owns $6.3 billion of Italian, Spanish, Belgian, Portuguese and Irish debt," according to Bloomberg, prompting questions of a missing $700 million and catching the eye of the FBI. Perhaps as a penance, Corzine "will decline a severance package worth $12.1 million, including cash and benefits," according to the AP.
As he departs his firm, The New York Times reports that Corzine has hired white-collar criminal defense lawyer Andrew Levander, who had made his name hiring a series of high-profile Wall Street executives. "He represented John Thain, the former chief executive at Merrill Lynch, in a government inquiry related his role in Merrill’s sale to Bank of America. Ezra Merkin, a hedge fund manager who invested with Bernard L. Madoff, hired Mr. Levander to defend him against a New York attorney general’s lawsuit connected to the Madoff case," reports the Times. In other words, he's a total pro. “Andy is not just smart but has a deep understanding of the investigative process,” defense lawyer Steven M. Cohen tells the paper. “He understands how cases are built and therefore how they are defended.”
Elsewhere in Corzine news, BusinessWeek and The Times are highlighting the former New Jersey governor's coziness with regulators. For instance, Gary Gensler, a regulator heading the Commodity Futures Trading Commission now investigating MF Global's bankruptcy gave Corzine $10,000 when he ran for governor. "The donation followed years of collaboration between the two men on both Wall Street and Capitol Hill. Gensler and Corzine had worked alongside each other on Goldman's trading floor after they joined the firm in the 1970s," reports BusinessWeek. The Times reports that Corzine, in his various roles, successfully pressured regulators to relent on regulations that would've affected MF Global. "The proposed rule would have restricted a complicated transaction that allowed MF Global in essence to borrow money from its own customers. Brokerage firms are allowed to use customers’ money to earn interest, not unlike banks, but this rule would have outlawed using customer funds for a loan to the firm itself. While such financing is not unknown on Wall Street, it carries substantial risk."