A criminal investigation into the demise of MF Global and the mysterious disappearance of $1.2 billion in client funds has concluded that "chaos and porous risk controls," rather than fraud, is to blame -- so criminal charges probably won't be brought against the firm's former CEO and key Obama fundraising bundler Jon Corzine, the New York Times reports.
The reaction to this news has been both angry and bipartisan.
“At this point, it is clear that people like Corzine, and Lloyd Blankfein could put on masks and start sticking up fruit stands all over lower Manhattan, and get away with it because of 'the difficulty in prosecuting crimes like these,'" writes Charles P. Pierce on the Esquire blog.
“It always seemed ... inevitable that there was never a chance that former MF Global CEO Jon Corzine would be criminally charged over his failed stewardship of the firm,” Jim Kim writes for Fierce Finance.
“Because in the Banana republic of the crave, no bundles can ever go to jail, no matter how heinous the crime,” writers at Zero Hedge grumble.
As reported previously on TheBlaze, disaster struck when MF Global executives, chief among them Corzine, made terribly risky bets on European investments. When these bets didn’t pay off, sources say money was shifted from customer accounts to cover the losses.
Eventually, the entire system broke down and, when everything came to a screeching halt, an estimated $1.2 billion had gone missing. When asked by a congressional panel where the money went, all Corzine could do was shrug and say, “I don’t know.”
And the investigating team can’t find anything?
“How could prosecutors drop a case where over one billion dollars in client money has gone missing , and where a CEO is throwing his hands up and saying he has no clue?” writes Halah Touryalai for Forbes.
“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,” writes Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey.
Over at The Atlantic, they were similarly skeptical and disturbed by the news:
Of course, if the company's bankruptcy is the result of incompetence rather than theft that won't make those who were burned by it feel any better. Nor will it help ease the fears of anti-Wall Street types who already believe the financial industry is a wasteland of greed and corruption.
Meanwhile, the more “outspoken” critics of the MF Global disaster were less muted in their response to today's news.
“Well it looks like another Wall Street firm that put customers in jeopardy will escape criminal prosecution,” the Huffington Post fumed.
“Crimes were unequivocally committed and I will do whatever I can to continue to do the government’s job for it and help see justice done,” James Catulis, a lawyer representing several MF Global clients whose money has gone missing, told CNBC.
“Jon Corzine is an ex-senator, ex-governor -- well-connected -- I walk away thinking, 'If you're one of those elites, you're above the law,'" said CNBC’s Rick Santelli.
Watch Santelli discuss his thoughts on the latest chapter in the MF Global debacle [via CNBC]:
But here is the kicker in all of this: In what the Times calls an effort to “rebuild his image” and reconnect with “his passion for trading,” Corzine is seriously considering starting another hedge fund. Yes, the man who sat at the helm of MF Global when billions of dollars in customer funds went missing is looking to get back into a line of business where people are supposed to trust him with their money.
In response to this bit of news, Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi joked that the location for Corzine’s new HQ would probably be "right next to OJ's home for battered women and Jeff Dahmer's Bed & Breakfast."
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Front page photo source: the AP.