* FINRA head says he was not aware of waiver request
* Waivers common when execs return from public service
* Regulator granted more than 1,500 exam waivers in 2011
By Suzanne Barlyn
NEW YORK, Nov 14 A top U.S. regulator said he
is "not apologetic at all" about granting a waiver that allowed
former MF Global Inc. CEO Jon Corzine to head the
firm without taking two licensing exams that are typically
Corzine received "absolutely no favoritism" from the
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Richard Ketchum,
FINRA's chairman and chief executive, said on Monday at the
sidelines of an industry conference.
Ketchum said he was never aware that Corzine applied for a
waiver. The application never came to his attention because it
was treated the same as any other applicant, he said.
Corzine, the former head of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., returned to Wall Street in 2010 as MF Global's chief
executive after a hiatus while serving for five years as
Democratic U.S. senator for New Jersey, until he was elected
governor of New Jersey in 2005. He lost his bid for a second
term after being defeated by Republican Chris Christie in
MF Global collapsed Oct. 31 after risky trades on European
debt, prompting Corzine's resignation. It faces a shortfall of
roughly $600 million in customer funds.
FINRA granted Corzine waivers for two basic licensing exams
that cover general securities principles and management issues.
But it required Corzine to take a futures licensing exam, a
FINRA spokeswoman confirmed.
The regulator, in granting Corzine the waivers, went
through "exactly the same analysis" that it would have applied
to any experienced person returning to Wall Street after a
stint in public service, including at the U.S. Securities and
Exchange Commission and U.S. Treasury Department, Ketchum
Waivers are also often requested by management
professionals who have larger responsibilities within a global
financial services firm and who take on a role at the
broker-dealer, he said.
FINRA approved 1,556 exam waivers to date in 2011,
according to a spokeswoman.