* Stabenow says CFTC must restore confidence in oversight
* Senate Ag panel to hold hearing on financial markets
* Regulators still looking for missing $600 million
By Christopher Doering
WASHINGTON, Nov 15 Congress increased pressure
on the U.S. futures regulator to sort through the mess left
behind by the collapse of brokerage MF Global , and
called for a hearing to examine whether proper market oversight
is in place.
Senator Debbie Stabenow, the chairwoman of the Senate
Agriculture Committee, said the bankruptcy of MF Global and the
missing $600 million of customer funds raises questions about
the dangers of excessive leverage and the adequacy of existing
"That funds are missing highlights an extraordinary breach
of trust - it is unacceptable that there are any doubts about
the safety of customer assets," said Stabenow, a Michigan
Democrat, in a letter sent on Tuesday to Gary Gensler, the head
of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
MF Global filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 31 after investors
and counterparties balked at revelations about the firm's bets
on risky European sovereign debt.
A huge shortfall was discovered in the customer accounts of
the company's brokerage, and the CFTC is among the authorities
investigating whether MF Global may have improperly mixed that
money with its own funds.
In the letter, Stabenow asked the CFTC a number of
questions including what it is doing to monitor and protect
segregated customer funds and what additional steps it plans to
take to protect them.
A CFTC spokesman declined to comment on the letter.
She also said more needs to be known if bankruptcies such
as MF Global's are preventable, and whether the current scope
and frequency of audits are enough to understand a firm and
whether it poses a risk to the market.
MF Global had a half dozen regulators policing various
parts of the firm, but no one clear watchdog responsible for
the whole company.
"The situation generally raises a number of questions about
the varying regulatory responsibilities within these markets,"
The Agriculture Committee will be holding a hearing in the
coming weeks on financial market oversight, which Stabenow said
will look into MF Global and the authority and resources of the