03 April 2012

McKenna: JP Morgan Chase Knew MF Global 'All Too Well'

"JPM had a history with Dennis Klejna. He was the head of compliance at Refco when that firm failed. JPM was one of the underwriters of the Refco IPO and agreed in April 2010 to pay $49.5 million to settle a shareholder lawsuit over that firm's collapse less than two months after going public in 2005...

Klejna was not criminally charged over his involvement in the Refco fraud, but he did sign a consent order with the Department of Justice and paid $1.25 million in disgorgement of his IPO gains. Then he went to work in the same job for MF Global."

Francine McKenna once again brings clarity and common sense to bear on the MF Global case in her guest blog for American Banker. It is very refreshing.

She also has a blog called Re: The Auditors.


JPMorgan Chase Knew MF Global All Too Well
By Francine McKenna
APR 2, 2012

I suspect that JPMorgan Chase (JPM) knows a lot more about MF Global than the bank's in-house lawyer let on in her Congressional testimony last week.

Diane Genova, deputy general counsel for JPM's investment bank, mostly answered lawmakers' questions about a much-discussed $200 million overdraft on a London account that MF Global allegedly used customer funds to cover. But JPM had an extensive relationship with Jon Corzine's brokerage, giving the megabank a bird's-eye view of the firm’s finances before and after it failed.

As such, JPM must have at least a clue about the other $1.4 billion of MF Global customer funds that have gone missing.

As MF Global's largest unsecured creditor, for example, JPM was first to the courthouse to protect its rights after the Oct. 31 bankruptcy filing. And as Genova told the House Financial Services Oversight and Investigations Committee on March 28, MF Global maintained a large number of cash demand deposit accounts at JPM. Four of these accounts in the U.S. were designated as customer segregated accounts.

MF Global also cleared agency securities through JPM, Genova said. The brokerage had two revolving credit facilities in which JPM was the administrative agent for a syndicate of other banks. And MF Global had securities lending and repurchase arrangements with JPM, the largest of which involved MF Global borrowing U.S. Treasuries from JPM's securities lending clients and posting agency securities as collateral.

JPMorgan even considered acquiring MF Global. But before anyone else outside of MF Global knew that there was a $1.6 billion hole in customer segregated funds, JPM passed on a deal. Rep. Francisco Canseco (R-Tex.) asked Genova why.

She testified: "After an extensive review, we determined that it was not a good business fit." Why am I not surprised?...

JPM could have been also feeling a bit skittish about being a beneficiary of inappropriate commingling. Its own broker/dealer recently committed the sin of not segregating customer funds in the U.K. JPM and its auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers – also MF Global’s auditor – recently admitted to UK regulators that for at least seven years, about $23 billion of JPM clients' assets had been inappropriately commingled. JPM was fined 33.3 million pounds.

I hope investigators from the FBI, Department of Justice, the regulators and the bankruptcy trustees will continue to dig into what JPM can tell us about the mystery of the missing $1.6 billion.

Read the rest here.