Lawyers for Mr. Corzine filed a motion late Tuesday to dismiss a civil case against him brought by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the federal agency that regulated MF Global until its demise in 2011. The 30-page motion, filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan, outlined Mr. Corzine’s defense and leveled a sharp critique of the commission, depicting the agency’s lawsuit as poorly drafted and error prone. “There is no evidence demonstrating that Mr. Corzine knowingly directed unlawful conduct or acted without good faith,” wrote the lawyers from Dechert, Andrew J. Levander and Benjamin E. Rosenberg. “Rather than acknowledge that reality and move on, the C.F.T.C. has clung to its baseless presumptions and manufactured charges of wrongdoing that are supposedly connected to Mr. Corzine.” [Dealbook]
An important element of any Wall Street education is figuring out what shady practices will win you a reputation as a genius, what shady practices will win you a reputation as a scumbag, and what shady practices will win you a prison sentence. There is substantial overlap!1 That education is extremely contextual, and your intuitions about what shadiness flies in one business won’t necessarily help you in another, or in court for that matter. For instance I grew up in a corporate equity business, so I’d be happy to tell you why Yahoo!’s share repurchase from Dan Loeb wasn’t insider trading but you can probably figure that out on your own. Meanwhile I have no idea what to make of spoofing, but it seems like Panther Energy Trading did some of it, and now they are in trouble: Read more »
The thing is that when you run a brokerage company and it goes and loses $1bn of customer money, the CFTC really ought to charge you with “fail[ing] to supervise diligently the activities of [your] officers, employees, and agents,” no? At least? There are various views of Jon Corzine’s role in MF Global’s efforts to misplace a billion dollars – did he intentionally misuse customer funds? was he aggressive but above-board? just confused? – but no one is going around saying “oh, yeah, Corzine was really on the ball there protecting customer money.” You’re just irreducibly not supposed to lose a billion dollars in customer money, and if you do, “failure to supervise diligently” is pretty much the kindest possible description.
Anyway here is the CFTC press release and complaint against Corzine and Edith O’Brien, the MF Global assistant treasurer and general fall guy. There have been approximately eight thousand lengthy blow-by-blows of the MF Global implosion by now, and I would understand if you didn’t want to read this one; I sure didn’t. Unlike the others, though, the CFTC complaint is enlivened by recorded telephone conversations. In which Edith O’Brien does not come off well: Read more »
International regulatory amity, bipartisan concerns and common sense be damned: The (probably) outgoing CFTC chair is going to see to it that these swaps-trading rules go into effect next month, damn the consequences. Read more »