One of the relatively few criticisms of the Obama administration from the Left has been the curious lack of prosecutions over the 2008 financial collapse on Wall Street. If, as Barack Obama maintains, the collapse came from the greed and unrestrained abuse of the system (rather than the government intervention in the lending markets that created a housing bubble and the government-endorsed mortgage-backed securities that poisoned the financial sector), why has the Department of Justice failed to hold anyone accountable? The New York Times has a pretty good answer today, but probably not the one the Left wanted to hear:
A criminal investigation into the collapse of the brokerage firm MF Global and the disappearance of about $1 billion in customer money is now heading into its final stage without charges expected against any top executives.
After 10 months of stitching together evidence on the firm’s demise, criminal investigators are concluding that chaos and porous risk controls at the firm, rather than fraud, allowed the money to disappear, according to people involved in the case.
Ahem. What kind of “porous risk controls” allowed MF Global to bet money that wasn’t theirs on Euro-zone debt? That seems to have faded from view as the issue at MF Global. It’s one thing for JP Morgan to bet the $6 billion farm on risky investments, but when a firm raids its customer accounts in an attempt to cover its own bad bets, that’s supposed to be a felony.
Here’s an even better look into the direction of investigators in the Obama-run Department of Justice. Are they trying to get to the top? No, they’re trying to get former Democratic governor and Senator — not to mention big-time Barack Obama bundler — Jon Corzine to rat out his underlings:
In the most telling indication yet that the MF Global investigation is winding down, federal authorities are seeking to interview the former chief of the firm, Jon S. Corzine, next month, according to the people involved in the case. Authorities hope that Mr. Corzine, who is expected to accept the invitation, will shed light on the actions of other employees at MF Global.
Those developments indicate that federal prosecutors do not expect to file criminal charges against the former New Jersey governor. Mr. Corzine has not yet received assurances that he is free from scrutiny, but two rounds of interviews with former employees and a review of thousands of documents have left prosecutors without a case against him, say the people involved in the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
It’s possible that Corzine had no idea that his own firm had started raiding customer accounts to cover Corzine’s own bad bets on EU debt … but it stretches the imagination to believe it. And if that is the case, then why would prosecutor think that he could provide any good evidence of wrongdoing among his staff? If he knew about it, he’s at least complicit, no?
Jeff Carter at Points and Figures smells a rat:
After speaking with CCC lawyer James Koutoulas, and other pro traders I have no doubt that money was stolen from customer segregated funds. There is just too much smoking gun evidence. Anyone with experience in the industry would be able to sift through the legal machinations and malarky to understand the deception involved. If this were adjudicated in an Arbitration or Probable Cause Committee at an exchange, I am relatively confident that Corzine would be found guilty based on the circumstantial facts that I know.
Jeff notes a passage in the Times’ article that paints Corzine as an “obsessive trader” who “frequently inhabited a desk on the trading floor.” Jeff calls that a “tell” in that a man that connected to the market would know what losses were piling up — and how much of the firm’s money would be available to back his play. The notion that an obsessive trader like Corzine, who micromanaged the firm’s trading on that level, was unaware of the origin of the money that did get used to attempt to recoup the losses is, well, very difficult to believe.
So who will take the fall? Carter bets that it will be MF Treasurer Edith O’Brien, who might have had an interesting tale to tell had prosecutors offered her immunity. Instead, the NYT suspects that federal prosecutors will end up cutting a deal with Corzine that allows him to shift the guilt to his staff.
All of which is, I’m sure, an amazing coincidence. And ZeroHedge notices the best news of all from the Times article:
Mr. Corzine, in a bid to rebuild his image and engage his passion for trading, is weighing whether to start a hedge fund, according to people with knowledge of his plans. He is currently trading with his family’s wealth.
If he is successful as a hedge fund manager, it would be the latest career comeback for a man who was ousted from both the top seat at Goldman Sachs and the New Jersey governor’s mansion.
Who wants to put their money into Corzine’s hands again? Anyone? Anyone?