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Jon Corzine to give first public testimony on MF Global collapse

December 8, 2011 |  7:01 am

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Former U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine is returning to Congress on Thursday, but not by choice.

Corzine will be testifying before a House committee in his first public appearance since the bankruptcy of the company he led, MF Global.

Corzine was subpoenaed by the agriculture committee, which is investigating the circumstances surrounding MF Global's sudden downfall in late October. 

In prepared remarks, Corzine is set to apologize for his role in the bankruptcy:

I appear at today’s hearing with great sadness. My sadness, of course, pales in comparison to the losses and hardships that customers, employees and investors have suffered as a result of MF Global’s bankruptcy. Their plight weighs on my mind every day –- every hour. And, as the chief executive officer of MF Global at the time of its bankruptcy, I apologize to all those affected.

The former New Jersey governor has been widely blamed for MF Global's troubles. He joined the firm in 2010 after losing a bid for reelection to the New Jersey governorship and quickly proceeded to lead the company in a drive for more profit. His main strategy was to make riskier trades with MF Global's own money, similar to the approach followed by Goldman Sachs, which he led during the 1990s.

In its last months, MF Global made big bets on European sovereign debt, which eventually helped bring the company down. Earlier this week it was reported that Corzine overruled objections to the risky strategy.

The agriculture committee, which oversees parts of the financial markets, is questioning what happened to $1.2 billion in customer money that has not been tracked down yet. Corzine is set to say that he only learned about the missing funds a day a before the bankruptcy -- during one of "the chaotic, sleepless nights preceding the declaration of bankruptcy" -- and does not know where the money is today.

Aside from a retracing of MF Global's last month, the testimony provides a colorful telling of Corzine's rise from rural Illinois, to night school and to the the top of Goldman Sachs.

Corzine is set to testify that most people would have taken advantage of their constitutional right not to testify, but not him.

As a former United States senator who recognizes the importance of congressional oversight, and recognizing my position as former chief executive officer in these terrible circumstances, I believe it is appropriate that I attempt to respond to your inquiries.

RELATED:

MF Global trustee says $1.2 billion or more missing

Jon Corzine caught up as MF Global inquiries escalate

MF Global goes bankrupt, undone by Europe's financial crisis

-- Nathaniel Popper

twitter.com/nathanielpopper

Photo: Former MF Global Chief Executive Jon Corzine. Credit: Andrew Harrer / EPA

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