Heartland Institute Experts React to Corzine Not Being Charged in MF Global Scandal

Published July 8, 2013

The New York Post reported today that former New Jersey governor and senator Jon Corzine will not face criminal charges for his role in the collapse of the MF Global commodities trading firm and the misuse and disappearance of hundreds of millions of investor funds.  

The following statements from finance and legal experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at [email protected] and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364. 

“The Commodity Futures Trading Commission last month filed civil charges against Corzine that state, ‘MF Global’s unlawful use of customer funds … harmed thousands of customers and violated fundamental customer protection laws on an unprecedented scale.’ So we have a government agency that says Corzine led MF Global into ‘unlawful use of customer funds’ and violations of ‘fundamental customer protection laws,’ yet criminal charges apparently will not be filed.

“Edward Snowden, who recently leaked information on the massive spying being done against Americans by the National Security Agency, is looking for a place to give him asylum. I suggest he seek asylum on Wall Street, where the right business and political connections are enough to stop all criminal prosecutions.”

Steve Stanek
Research Fellow, Budget and Tax Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Budget & Tax News
[email protected]

“In light of all of the other scandals in this administration, dropping these charges does raise a question about tainted prosecutorial discretion for this former Democrat governor of New Jersey. Attorney General Eric Holder adds to a growing list of, at the very least, politicized judgments.”

Michael Warder
Vice Chancellor
Pepperdine University
[email protected]

“After Conrad Black, Michael Milken, and even Martha Stewart were prosecuted and went to prison for financial-related crimes of seemingly lesser importance, this news will no doubt provoke outrage in some quarters and cynicism in the rest, especially because Corzine is a Democrat and so is the current administration.

“In a rush to pass judgment, however, Americans should keep several things in mind. First, the presumption of innocence in a criminal case does not necessarily mean that Corzine didn’t do the things of which he is suspected. Because the government must prove that beyond a reasonable doubt with evidence admissible in court it should not properly prosecute unless it believes it can ultimately obtain a conviction. To do otherwise would be an abuse of prosecutorial discretion, and every citizen in a free republic deserves the benefit of the doubt. Second, the CFTC has already brought civil claims that could result in substantial penalties. Third, subject to applicable statutes of limitation and standing requirements, injured parties may still be able to bring private lawsuits in an effort to recoup their losses.

“If Corzine was as involved and responsible as critics think then, like Bernie Madoff, he may still face his own personal hell. As eighteenth century American jurist John Bannister Gibson is reported to have said, ‘the stones of Justice turn exceedingly slow, but grind exceedingly fine.'”

David L. Applegate
Policy Advisor, Legal Affairs
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“I find this anonymously sourced article in the New York Post to be one which lacks an appropriate level of professional skepticism. The article states that Jon Corzine, the former MF Global CEO, will not face criminal charges over the firm’s ‘improper handling of customers’ funds leading up to the commodity brokerage firm’s spectacular collapse in late 2011.’

“An informed observer would have preferred for the author of this article to also have explored the ‘credible evidence [that] Mr. Corzine perjured himself before multiple House and Senate Committees as evidenced by numerous recorded phone calls prior to MF Global’s bankruptcy referenced in … [the] civil complaint by the CFTC,’ and as summarized by Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.). Of note is that Rep. Grimm is a former FBI agent who had been ‘tasked with investigating financial crimes and [is a] current member of the House Financial Services’ Committee, and so would have added much-needed balance to the author’s one-sided article.”

Hilary Till
Principal, Premia Risk Consultancy, Inc.
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

The Heartland Institute is a 29-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.