Thursday, May 3, 2012
U.S. HOUSE FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE CALLS FOR AN 'INDEPENDENT COUNSEL' OUTSIDE DOJ TO INVESTIGATE MF GLOBAL COLLASPE
U.S. HOUSE FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE CALLS ON AN 'INDEPENDENT COUNSEL' FOR MF GLOBAL
By AARON LUCCHETTI
A Republican member of the House Financial Services Committee is pushing for the Justice Department to turn over its investigation of the MF Global Holdings Ltd. collapse to an independent counsel, according to people familiar with the matter.
Rep. Michael Grimm, a first-term House member from New York, circulated the letter Wednesday in an effort to get other legislators to sign on. He is working to get more signatures in coming days before turning over the letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, one of these people said.
The move comes about six months after the commodities brokerage firm tumbled into bankruptcy and the revelation that money was missing from customer accounts. The shortfall is estimated at about $1.6 billion.
Criminal and civil investigators have been looking into the case, but so far have said little about the progress of their investigation.
That has led some Republicans and customers of MF Global to question whether the investigation is being slowed by a desire to show deference to the firm's former chief executive, Jon Corzine. Mr. Corzine, a former U.S. senator and governor of New Jersey, has been a prominent Democratic fund raiser and supporter of the Obama administration.
The letter circulated by Rep. Grimm's office acknowledges that while "we have no direct evidence" that the Department of Justice "is providing special treatment… perception matters a great deal." Still, the letter concludes that "an independent investigation is urgently needed."
A spokesman for the Justice Department declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Mr. Corzine.
Rep. Grimm, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, was elected in 2010 and represents Staten Island and a small part of Brooklyn.
While some critics claim politics as a reason for the slow pace of the MF Global probe, others involved with the investigation cite difficulty proving that any employees of the firm had intent to move customer money from customer
The New York company's final days were also chaotic. Mr. Corzine testified in December to three different congressional committees that he never intended to harm customers or direct anyone to pull money from customer funds.
James Koutoulas, a lawyer representing MF Global customers, said an independent counsel is "much needed due to the conflicts in the case." Mr. Grimm's letter was earlier reported by Fox Business News.
Posted by Eileen at 1:05 AM