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

Thu Dec 8, 2011 9:36pm EST
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By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A contrite Jon Corzine, in his first public defense of his leadership of now-bankrupt futures brokerage MF Global, told U.S. lawmakers he "never intended" to break rules and had no clue what happened to hundreds of millions of dollars in missing customer money.

The former U.S. senator and Goldman Sachs chief executive freely answered lawmakers' questions during a fairly friendly House Agriculture Committee on Thursday.

But he tried to duck responsibility by repeatedly claiming a lack of intent and lack of recollection about key events that led to the firm's downfall and its scrambled books.

Legal experts said it was a clear tactic to try to avoid criminal charges.

"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.

Thursday's hearing was a stunning reversal for a political and financial power broker who endured three hours of pointed questions behind a placard that bore the title "Honorable" in front of his name. Corzine had once been the lawmaker who made witnesses squirm.

The testimony came six weeks after MF Global collapsed into bankruptcy once the market lost confidence in the firm following a revelation it had made a $6.3 billion bet on European sovereign debt.

The search for hundreds of millions of dollars in missing customer funds has sent reverberations through the farm belt and trading floors, and has attracted the attention of the FBI and federal prosecutors.   Continued...