What is in this article?:
- Fallout over the late-October bankruptcy of MF Global Holdings Ltd. has spawned FBI and Justice Department investigations and left many wondering how, in the wake of supposed Wall Street reforms, government oversight of another financial institution was so lax.
- More importantly for the agriculture sector, the bankruptcy and government response has prompted many questions about the safety of futures trading.
Is that legitimate or do you think the number is even higher?
“We know what the maximum is. … We know it can’t be any higher than $1.7 billion.
“To us, that’s irrelevant. What if all the money is gone? It doesn’t matter – there was $41 billion in MF Global’s estate when they filed for bankruptcy. That’s more than enough to pay us back several times over.
“In any event, do I think the shortfall is higher than $1.2 billion? No.
“I believe the CME thinks that it’s actually either nonexistent or much smaller. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have recently raised their guarantee. The CME released a guarantee way, way, way too late. If they’d done that on Oct. 31, we might not be talking. Initially, they did a $250 million guarantee to facilitate the return of assets. They’ve upped it to $550 million.
“I think the trustee is using the shortfall to delay the process. And there’s a variety of reasons he could do that. I’m not saying he has nefarious motives. But his interest is to protect everyone: the commodities customers, the securities customers, the creditors, the unsecured and unsecured creditors, everyone who has a claim. He wants to make sure he has assets to pay them.
“To his mind, (customers) are just like everyone else in the line. To us, that’s absolutely ridiculous given the primacy of segregated funds. We are at the front of the line and no one should be paid until we’re made whole.”
Recently, the trustee “received a $1.3 billion transfer from Harris Bank that he said contained some customer funds.
“The trustee has said he wants to release 60 percent of customer assets. That would be about $3.24 billion. Right now, he has $3.7 billion cash on hand plus whatever Harris gave him. He’s got the money. Why is he holding on to customer money? It isn’t his money and he can’t send it out in the bankruptcy. He needs to get rid of it.
“We think with the CME’s guarantee and everything else going on, there will be an interim distribution during the claims window. It should be ‘trued up’ across the board at 75 percent and then we’ll be left to fight it out for the remaining 25 percent. Hopefully, that will happen very quickly.”
“Quickly” meaning in the next few weeks, a few months?
“I hope we’re talking about weeks.
“Our goal is to have this trued up – 75 percent, or more – by the end of the year. We hope that’ll be 100 percent by the close of the claims window, which is Jan. 31.
“It all comes down to how this is adjudicated. If the court agrees that we have a super priority lien then there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to get all our money – 100 percent -- by the end of January.
“If they disagree and say ‘no, you must share in a pro-rata loss’ it will be years.”