MF Global trustee sees possible claims vs Corzine

NEW YORK, Mon Jun 4, 2012 – The trustee liquidating MF Global Holdings Ltd. issued a blistering report on Monday about how former CEO Jon Corzine ran the broker-dealer and said he saw possible civil claims against top executives for breach of duties to customers.

In a written report to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, trustee James Giddens said liquidity at the commodities firm had been a concern long before MF Global tumbled into bankruptcy last October.

Yet before and throughout Corzine’s tenure as CEO, “systems and tools that would enable accurate real-time monitoring of liquidity were never implemented,” Giddens concluded.

The trustee said he had been in discussions with customers’ lawyers about legal action against former MF Global managers and others. He said his report drew no conclusions about possible criminal liability.

Giddens had earlier said he was mulling filing claims against certain executives, but did not name them. Monday’s report identifies Corzine, as well as former Chief Financial Officer Henri Steenkamp and former Assistant Treasurer Edith O’Brien, as possible targets for civil claims.

A spokesman for Corzine had no immediate comment. Lawyers for Steenkamp and O’Brien were not immediately available.

The report serves as a status update on Giddens’ efforts to recover money for customers who lost funds when MF Global collapsed. Giddens has estimated that about $1.6 billion disappeared from customer accounts when the company improperly mixed client funds with its own money.

Giddens also said he was prepared to litigate against JPMorgan Chase & Co, one of MF Global’s main banks, if unable to reach a settlement within 60 days. That dispute centers on claims over whether the bank played a role in the disappearance of customer funds.

JPMorgan has already returned about $89 million in customer funds and $518 million in general MF Global assets, Giddens’ report said.