Financial Regulatory Forum

Futures customer protections improved in U.S. and overseas after frauds

By Nick Paraskeva

NEW YORK, July 17 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - The CFTC approved tough customer protection rules for futures firms’ days after the Peregrine default led to over $200 million in missing client funds. Losses arising from a fraud by the owner of the futures broker come soon after a $1.6 billion hole in client funds from the collapse of MF Global. The new rules require daily calculations of client money to be reported, and for senior management to certify cash movements.

The CFTC charged Peregrine Financial Group, and its owner Russell Wasendorf, Sr, of misappropriating customer funds. A recent audit of Peregrine by the National Futures Association (NFA), the self-regulator for independent futures firms, found the firm falsely represented it held $220 million customer funds at a bank account, which only had $5.1million. The firm filed for liquidation Friday, and its owner was arrested. (more…)

MF Global trustee reviewing firm’s practice of repledging collateral

By Emmanuel Olaoye and Christopher Elias

NEW YORK/LONDON, Dec. 21 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - The bankruptcy trustee for collapsed U.S. brokerage firm MF Global Inc. is looking into how the firm re-pledged customer collateral as part of its search for $1.2 billion of missing customer funds.

The practice, called re-hypothecation, has drawn renewed scrutiny after the failure of MF Global and experts said U.S. regulators may face new restrictions as part of efforts to increase protection on customer accounts. (more…)

Off Balance Sheet Repo Risks Come Back to Bite

By Christopher Elias

NEW YORK, Nov.16 (Business Law Currents) - Off balance sheet items and undisclosed liabilities are coming back to bite companies, as repo-to-maturity disclosures prove to be a jarring reminder of pre-crisis risk proclivity.

Symptomatic of a wider problem gripping U.S. banks, MF Global’s bankruptcy has drawn attention to the danger of financial services firms hiding their true liabilities, no matter how safe they think they are.

The revelation that MF Global’s off balance sheet leveraged repo-to-maturity play was stuffed full of toxic Eurozone debt proved to be its downfall. The prospect of a Eurozone default spooked markets and MF Global’s liquidity drained away. A review of U.S. banks’ SEC disclosures reveals, however, some troubling implications of the gaps in U.S. GAAP filings as the true nature of hidden debt exposure becomes apparent.  (more…)

Fast-moving MF Global case offers early lessons for compliance

By Emmanuel Olaoye

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – Charges that hundreds of millions of dollars are missing from the accounts of MF Global’s clients raise the question of whether powerful executives at the firm influenced the independence of internal auditors as the futures brokerage scrambled for survival.

MF Global, which collapsed over risky trades on European debt, faces a shortfall of $633 million in customer funds, the CME Group Inc. has estimated. (more…)

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