Lawmaker presses CFTC on MF Global collapse

Tue Nov 29, 2011 5:04pm EST

* Lawmaker looks to CFTC's Gensler for answers of MFG

* Regulators failed to effectively coordinate oversight

* Panel has Dec. 15 hearing with Gensler, MFG executives

By Christopher Doering

WASHINGTON, Nov 29 (Reuters) - A House Republican lawmaker is pressing Gary Gensler, the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, on whether early signs of MF Global's collapse fell through the cracks.

Representative Randy Neugebauer, chair of the House Financial Services subcommittee on oversight and investigations, said in his letter to Gensler he was "concerned about the effectiveness" of regulators and self regulatory organizations that oversee MF Global .

"Different information was known by multiple SROs that might have, if aggregated and shared, been used to identify the risk at MF Global earlier or might have mitigated the consequences of its collapse," Neugebauer said in a letter to Gensler dated Nov. 28.

A CFTC official could not be reached for comment.

Gensler has been invited to appear before Neugebauer and the subcommittee on Dec. 15 along with other regulators and Jon Corzine, who resigned as MF Global's chief executive, and Bradley Abelow, the firm's chief operating officer.

The failed brokerage had a half dozen regulators including the CFTC, Securities and Exchange Commission, Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority policing various parts of the firm, but no one clear watchdog responsible for the whole company.

MF Global filed for Chapter 11 protection on Oct. 31 after the New York-based company revealed it had made a $6.3 billion bet on European sovereign debt, spooking investors.

The shortfall of commodity customer funds at MF Global may be around $1.2 billion according to the trustee liquidating the company, though Reuters reported on Monday that regulators and a law enforcement official believe the total is being overestimated.

Regulators are trying to determine what happened to the money and whether MF Global may have improperly mixed customer funds with its own -- a major violation of industry rules.

"The apparent loss of segregated client funds at MF Global is extremely troubling," said Neugebauer, who asked Gensler whether there were concerns expressed about MF Global at Financial Stability Oversight Council meetings this year.

Neugebauer also asked Gensler for more information on why Gensler chose to recuse himself from the MF Global investigation.

Gensler and Corzine worked at Goldman Sachs Group Inc at the same time and held prominent positions. They both left the investment bank in the late 1990s.

Gensler has said he was not participating in the investigation so he would not become a distraction.

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