MF Global masked debt risks: WSJ

Thu Nov 3, 2011 11:50pm EDT

(Reuters) - MF Global Holdings Ltd may have disguised its debt levels to investors by temporarily slashing the debt it was carrying before publicly reporting its finances each quarter, according to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal.

The activity is referred to in the financial industry as "window dressing."

"Over the last two years, MF Global's ending balance on short-term borrowings were 6 percent less than the quarterly average," MF Global spokeswoman Diana DeSocio told Reuters.

A company spokeswoman separately told the Journal that the firm did not lower its reported borrowings deliberately. In MF Global's view the firm's quarter-end numbers conveyed an accurate picture to investors of its level of risk and leverage, she told the newspaper.

U.S. futures brokerage MF Global filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday following bad bets on euro zone debt.

(Reporting by Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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