Unstructured Finance

UF Weekend Reads

Here’s to getting out exclusive stories fast when need be. This week, pay close attention to Jamie Dimon, who will be on the congressional hot seat as he deals with questions over JPM’s $2 billion plus trading loss. And without further ado, here’s Sam Forgione’s weekend reads:

 

From Fortune:

Peter Elkind and Doris Burke add more arc to the “human drama” of MF Global’s collapse.

From The New York Times:

Ron Lieber has some tips to resolve the fear of falling behind on finances.

From Institutional Investor:

JP MorganChase’s trading loss could signal big changes for investment banks, writes Charles Wallace.

From Bloomberg Businessweek:

Matthew Philips brings the U.S. closer to the reality of European debt crisis contagion.

From The Washington Post:

Public workers and their unions could face the brunt of budget cuts, Sandhya Somashekhar and Krissah Thompson write.

The taxman cometh for MF Global

By Matthew Goldstein

You can add the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to the long list of creditors and customers looking to get their money back from MF Global, the failed futures brokerage firm.

The IRS slapped a lien on what’s left of MF Global, seeking to recoup some $395,000 in unpaid taxes stemming from 2006 and 2007. The tax lien was filed with New York State’s division of corporations on Nov. 16, about three weeks after MF Global filed for bankruptcy.

The unpaid tax bill predates the period during which former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine took over the helm of MF Global.

MF Global: gross negligence or intent

By Matthew Goldstein

There was plenty of theatrics Thursday when Jon Corzine returned to his old stomping ground–Capitol Hill–to offer an apology and a mild defense for the events that led to the collapse of MF Global. But in the end little light was shed on just what happened during those final days of October, as Corzine’s firm spiraled towards bankruptcy and hundreds of millions dollars of supposedly protected customer money went missing.

Corzine said many times he didn’t know what happened to the money and was shocked as anyone to find out the money was gone. But there is one thing Corzine said that will prove to be the most critical part of his testimony and that’s his assertion that he never intended to do anything wrong. Or more precisely, he never intended to have customer money maintained in segregated accounts transferred to the firm’s own bank accounts.

As anyone who has been following the MF Global saga now knows, the one inviolate rule of the futures industry is that a firm cannot commingle its money with its customers, or take customer money in a segregated account to pay the firm’s bills or debts.

MF Global a month later and still a mystery

By Matthew Goldstein

It’s been about a month since MF Global began spiraling towards bankruptcy and still there’s no clarity about what happened to the missing customer money that was supposed to be kept in untouchable, segregated accounts. It’s not even clear how much money is missing.

When the Jon Corzine-led firm filed for bankruptcy on Halloween, it was believed some $900 million in customer money couldn’t be accounted for in MF Global’s segregated accounts maintained at Harris Banks and other institutions. That sum was quickly revised downward to about $600 million. And the number remained at $600 million until the court-appointed liquidation trustee surprised everyone last week by saying more than $1.2 billion in customer money might be missing.

But now even that $1.2 billion figure is in doubt. Officials with the CME quickly questioned the much higher figure and so did other regulators. A law enforcement source tells me federal investigators also doubt the $1.2 billion figure and believe the missing money is still about $600 million.

MF Global and the rubber check

By Matthew Goldstein

With the mystery of the missing $600 million in customer funds at MF Global Financial still unresolved, a lot of customers of the failed futures firm are starting to complain about getting bounced checks.

It appears that 10 days ago, with speculation swirling that the Jon Corzine-led firm would soon file for bankruptcy, a good number of customers started to put in requests to pull their money from the New York-based outfit. But instead of simply wiring that money back to their customers, it seems MF Global tried to buy some time for itself by sending that money back via snail mail in the form of an old-fashioned check.

Those checks cut by the folks at MF Global began arriving in customer mailboxes this week, several days after the firm filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 31 in New York federal court. And by the time customers started depositing those checks, they were rejected as having insufficient funds.

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