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MF Global GC will testify tomorrow at House hearing

Laurie Ferber will address broker’s fall into bankruptcy, questionable transfers

Tomorrow, MF Global Holdings Ltd. General Counsel Laurie Ferber will testify at a House Financial Services subcommittee hearing on the broker’s bankruptcy this past October that resulted in an estimated $1.6 billion customer funds shortfall.

In a testimony prepared for tomorrow’s hearing, Ferber says she wasn’t aware of the gravity of the customer funds shortfall until right before MF Global collapsed into bankruptcy. She says she received emails on Oct. 30, 2011—the day before the broker collapsed—indicating there was a shortfall in customer accounts estimated between $3 million and $952 million.

Ferber also says she twice refrained from providing assurances to JPMorgan Chase & Co. that her company was complying with rules to segregate customers’ collateral because the request was too broad. JPMorgan was interested in two Oct. 28 transfers; one was a $200 million transfer from a MF Global segregated customer funds account to a house account, and the other was a $175 million transfer from the house account to a London subsidiary’s account at JPMorgan.

"Although I had no reason to believe that any non-compliant transfers from segregated accounts had occurred or would occur, I did not think that any individual officer or employee should be asked to issue such a broad certificate unless that employee personally had handled all such transfers or was able to review all the transactions within the available timeframe,” Ferber said in her prepared testimony. “I also questioned the propriety of such an affirmative representation about future events."

Ferber says she asked JPMorgan to narrow its request on Oct. 28, and the bank did so the next day. She then turned the matter over to another unnamed colleague in MF Global’s law department.

Ashley Post

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