In a mere 24-hours, MF Global has gone from being a bankrupt brokerage firm with a famous CEO to a federal investigation soon involving the FBI. NBC New York reports that the FBI alongside federal prosecutors are about to join the investigation into how as much as $700 million went missing from the accounts of clients at MF Global, the brokerage lead by former New Jersey Governor and the CEO of Goldman Sachs Jon Corzine. In a separate inquiry, the Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodities Future Trading Commission will also be investigating the firm's collapse, according to the report. An SEC spokesman tells NBC New York that MF Global has "possible deficiencies in customer futures segregated accounts held at the firm.”
How fast things have changed for MF Global and Corzine. Earlier this afternoon, the Associated Press broke news that MF Global admitted to co-mingling client money with its own funds during a phone call with federal regulators on Monday morning. The AP noted that the action could be civil violation. "Government rules require securities firms to keep clients' money and company money in separate accounts."
That revelation followed news this morning that CME Group, the exchange regulator that supervises MF Global, disclosed during an earnings call that MF Global had broken securities rules requiring brokerage firms to separate client money from their own trading accounts. Though CME Group's chief executive Craig Donohue said he wasn't sure the extent of MF Global's violation, he said CME was launching an investigation. “While we are unable to determine the precise scope of the firm’s violation at this time, we are investigating the circumstances of the firm’s failure,” he said.
That bleak news was followed by MF Global being suspended from trading on the London Metal Exchange and CME, as Bloomberg reported this morning. "MF Global U.K. Ltd. was excluded from LME electronic and floor trading after it was declared a defaulter by LCH.Clearnet Ltd., which clears transactions." That got traders talking. Jonathan Barratt, a managing director of Commodity Broking Services, told Bloomberg. "They are big players and this certainly raises concerns in the market. We have agricultural positions with them and for now, we'll just have to wait and see what happens."
U.S. stocks had already taken a drubbing from bankruptcy, ass The New York Times reported last night:"investors pummeled many financial stocks, fearful that problems were lurking on the books of other Wall Street firms. It was a crisis of confidence, not unlike in 2008 when the markets punished stocks on mere speculation of trouble." Signs aren't looking any better today. At the end of trading, the Dow closed 297 points in the red and the S&P eneded down 2.79 percent.