By Peter Schroeder - 11/14/12 06:33 PM EST
"I am not co-sponsoring the majority’s staff report on MF Global primarily due to an insufficient amount of time to review the report and go over it with other Democratic Subcommittee Members," he said in a statement provided to The Hill. "While I agree with a number of the report’s observations and recommendations, others require additional commentary. I am preparing an addendum in conjunction with other Democratic Subcommittee Members. I appreciate Chairman Neugebauer’s efforts and look forward to working with him on MF Global issues in the future."
The subcommittee stops short of declaring that laws were broken in the frantic final days of the firm, deferring to regulators and prosecutors dissecting the bankruptcy. But the report does call on Congress to consider legislation that would impose civil liability on the officers and directors of futures commission merchants like MF Global, especially those officials that sign off on financial statements and authorize transfers from customer accounts.
Republicans are heaping blame on Corzine's feet for the bankruptcy. Portions of the report released by committee Republicans paint the former Democratic lawmaker as eagerly expanding the risks taken on by the firm, primarily by investing heavily in European debt. At the same time, he failed to subject his moves to appropriate checks and properly disclosing those risks to regulators.
They accused Corzine, a former partner at Goldman Sachs, of creating an "authoritarian atmosphere" where his decisions could not be questioned. The report notes that Corzine overhaul the top of MF Global when he took it over after losing his gubernatorial reelection bid, including bringing on his former chief of staff, Bradley Abelow, to be the firm's chief operating officer. The report states that Corzine directed concerns about his moves to Abelow instead of the firm's board, which "deprived" the board of an independent assessment of those risks.
The report also claims that Corzine's investments in European debt quickly expanded "well in excess of prudent limits without effective resistance." In addition, regulators were not fully aware of the risks being taken on by the firm because it did not fully disclose the extent of the holdings at first.
Once the firm was downgraded by the credit rating agencies, it led to a "run" on the firm that deprived it of liquidity and ultimately led to its collapse.
The report, when fully released, will also address regulatory failures leading up to the collapse, concern that credit raters failed to fully evaluate the firm's documentation, and the decision by the New York Federal Reserve Bank to designate MF Global as a "primary dealer" despite its precarious financial position.