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MF Global Execs Seek Distance on Missing Money

MF Global
Mario Tama, Getty Images

Two executives at MF Global are seeking to distance themselves from an estimated $1.2 billion in customer funds that has gone missing, according to their prepared testimony for a Senate hearing.

Bradley Abelow, the president and chief operating officer, and Henri Steenkamp, the chief financial officer, both say they don’t know where the money is or why it is missing.

Former New Jersey Sen. Jon Corzine, who led MF Global as CEO until last month, also told a congressional panel last week that he doesn’t know what happened to the money. All three will testify Tuesday before the Senate Agriculture Committee.

In his prepared testimony, Steenkamp says he had no direct involvement with the transfer of funds.

“Direct involvement with operational matters such as bank accounts or fund transfers has never been part of my duties,” Steenkamp says in his testimony prepared.

Abelow says he cannot explain what happened to the money without access to MF Global documents, which a trustee now controls.

“At this time … I do not know the answers to those questions,” he says.

MF Global collapsed into the eighth-largest bankruptcy in U.S. history on Oct. 31 after a disastrous bet on European debt. The FBI and federal regulators are investigating MF Global.

Corzine told the House Agriculture Committee last week that he didn’t become aware of the missing money until Oct. 30.

Steenkamp says that he, too, was unaware of any problems with separated customer funds Oct. 30.

“I do not know why these funds cannot be accounted for, but based on the fact that no shortfalls had been reported to me previously, it appears that any irregularities were likely caused by events that occurred shortly before the bankruptcy filing,” Steenkamp says in his written testimony.

Corzine, a Democrat, was a senator from 2001 through 2005 and New Jersey’s governor from 2006 until early 2010. He also was CEO of Goldman Sachs before entering politics. He joined MF Global in March 2010.

Abelow was Corzine’s chief of staff when he was New Jersey governor. He joined MF Global in September 2010.

Steenkamp has been with the company since 2006. He became the company’s CFO in April.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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