MF Global's Corzine: I did not intend to break rules

Thu Dec 8, 2011 4:47pm EST
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By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Jon Corzine said he "never intended to break any rules" while he was chief of MF Global and that he doesn't know what happened to the hundreds of millions of dollars in missing customer money.

Corzine, in his first public appearance since the firm filed for bankruptcy on October 31, gave lawmakers a lengthy account of the final days of futures brokerage MF Global and apologized to those harmed by the firm's collapse.

"I never intended to break any rules, whether it dealt with the segregation rules or any of the other rules that are applicable," said Corzine, wearing a somber dark suit and armed with an accordion file folder of documents and a highlighter pen.

When pressed by lawmakers at the House Agriculture Committee about whether he authorized a transfer of customer funds to firm accounts, Corzine said: "If I did, it was a misunderstanding."

Investigators are determining whether MF Global raided customers' segregated funds for its own needs -- a major violation of industry rules. While MF Global made trades for its own profit under Corzine, its principle business was matching and clearing commodity trades on behalf of customers.

Corzine said his "sadness" over the collapse of the firm pales in comparison to MF Global's customers, employees and investors.

"Their plight weighs on my mind every day -- every hour," Corzine, a former U.S. senator, told the panel after being sworn in by committee Chairman Frank Lucas. He was flanked by his lawyer, Andrew Levander, and said he was aware that he had the right to counsel.

"My own expectation, even at these late hours, is that the money will be recovered."   Continued...