WASHINGTON Poor management decisions by MF Global former CEO Jon Corzine triggered the brokerage firm's collapse, while lax protections for customer funds contributed to the loss of an estimated $1.6 billion of customer money, U.S. congressional investigators have determined.
Evidence unearthed by the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight puts the blame squarely on Corzine, the panel's chairman, Rep. Randy Neugebauer, said in a preview of the report that will be released on Thursday.
"The responsibility for failing to maintain the systems and controls necessary to protect customer funds rests with Corzine," the report says. "This failure represents a dereliction of his duty as MF Global's chairman and CEO."
Corzine, a former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs who also served as a U.S. senator and as governor of New Jersey, has denied any wrongdoing.
A Corzine spokesman on Wednesday said: "While we have not yet been able to review the whole report, it is worth noting that ... the House Subcommittee apparently did not find any evidence that Mr. Corzine acted in bad faith or engaged in any intentional wrongdoing."
MF Global filed for bankruptcy more than a year ago, as investors scrambled to pull out funds after revelations the firm bet heavily on European sovereign debt and after credit downgrades.
Regulators, prosecutors and lawmakers have been looking into the estimated $1.6 billion in customer funds missing after the firm's collapse.
The House subcommittee said it has held three hearings, interviewed more than 50 witnesses and reviewed thousands of documents from MF Global, its regulators and other sources.
The report will show that risks were exacerbated by an atmosphere at the firm in which no one could question Corzine's decisions, the subcommittee said.
Corzine's spokesman said MF Global's significant business decisions were all subject to review by its board.
Corzine also kept his own trading activities out of the firm's risk management review process, the subcommittee said. The group said it also found that regulatory agencies had not shared crucial information with each other, and other problems.
A trustee liquidating the company's broker-dealer unit released a critical report in June that said that in his attempt to build the firm into a global investment powerhouse, Corzine failed to address growing liquidity needs.
(Reporting by Karey Wutkowski, Sarah N. Lynch, Emily Stephenson and Aruna Viswanatha; Editing by John Wallace, David Gregorio and Dan Grebler)