Breaking the glass
Roberts, growing frustrated, made the point that before MF Global’s collapse, CME knew the firm was “attempting to hide something. In fact, didn’t MF Global leadership go so far as to request and receive an actual plan that would ‘break the glass’ and tap into your customers’ segregated accounts?”
Corzine admitted there was such a report, although “it was not ever the intent to recommend tapping into segregated customer funds.”
Despite his placement at the firm’s pinnacle, Abelow again claimed he was not plugged in and had not “reviewed the specific document. My recollection was that the key source of liquidity under that scenario was the use of a revolving credit facility.”
Roberts retorted “you might want to take a look at it” and then laid out a possible explanation for the firm’s actions. “By all accounts, on the Friday before bankruptcy, MF Global thought it had found a buyer to save (the firm). It seems well within the realm of possibility that a classic run on the bank overwhelmed (the firm’s) cash flow. And an executive could have communicated, somehow, an order to use your customer segregated funds to cover the firm’s liquidity thinking, of course, everything would be fine by Monday morning. The company would be bought out and an infusion of money from the new owner could replace the missing customer funds. Is this plausible?”
Corzine paused before answering. “As in a number of questions, being asked to speculate – and I don’t think I should speculate – I had no reason to believe until the evening of Oct. 30 that there was a misuse of customer funds.”
Abelow echoed a common refrain from Mf Global executives, saying he was “shocked” to learn of the customer fund shortfall.
Roberts, in a clipped tone, “well, if this isn’t what happened? What did happen?”
The executives passed on answering.