BUSINESS
03/28/2012 11:23 am ET | Updated May 28, 2012

Diane Genova, JPMorgan Exec: Corzine Assured Bank It Could Cover Overdrafts

* Corzine spoke with JPMorgan on Oct. 28 -- bank lawyer

* JPMorgan says was assured overdrafts could be covered

* Bank deputy general counsel to appear before House panel

March 28 (Reuters) - Former MF Global Holdings Ltd Chief Executive Jon Corzine assured JPMorgan Chase & Co shortly before his brokerage firm collapsed that it had ample funds to cover overdrafts, a lawyer for the bank is expected to testify.

The testimony by Diane Genova, JPMorgan's deputy general counsel, before a House subcommittee hearing later on Wednesday may shed further light on a $175 million transfer by MF Global to a JPMorgan account on Oct. 28, three days before MF Global filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The movement of money is one of the focuses of investigators who are examining how MF Global lost an estimated $1.6 billion of customer funds.

Congressional investigators, regulators and law enforcement officials are trying to determine if the company raided customer money to address a liquidity crisis, violating federal regulations.

There has been no smoking gun to suggest criminal intent, and Corzine, a former U.S. senator and a governor of New Jersey, has maintained that he "never intended" to break any rules and did not give instructions to misuse customer funds.

Several MF Global officials are also expected to appear at the hearing on Wednesday, which will give lawmakers a chance to question people who controlled money transfers.

Among them is assistant treasurer Edith O'Brien, believed to have authorized the questionable transfer. She is the only hearing witness to not provide advance testimony, and may invoke her constitutional right against self-incrimination.

MF GLOBAL SAID FUNDS "AMPLE"

According to Genova's prepared testimony, overdrafts at MF Global surfaced after it had become clear early in the Oct. 24 week that the company had fallen into "some degree of distress" because of a large quarterly loss and a credit rating downgrade.

Genova said that on the morning of Friday the 28th, JPMorgan found overdrafts in some foreign exchange clearing accounts managed by UK-based affiliates of MF Global.

She said the bank notified Corzine and others at MF Global, and was assured that any overdraft would be covered.

Genova's testimony said the matter needed to be addressed so JPMorgan could run a $4.9 billion auction of government and corporate bonds that could give MF Global needed liquidity.

"When this was raised with Mr. Corzine on Friday morning, he readily agreed that it was important for MF Global to cover the overdrafts, and he assured JPMorgan executives that MF Global had ample funds to cover the overdrafts and that they would be covered promptly," Genova said in her testimony.

By 11 a.m. that morning, enough money had been transferred to cover the overdrafts, but JPMorgan noticed that there were two transfers: $200 million from a customer-segregated account to an MF Global account in the United States, and $175 million from that U.S. account to an MF Global account in London.

Genova's written testimony says that the bank considered it "prudent and appropriate" to ask MF Global to confirm these transfers complied with Commodity Futures Trading Commission rules governing customer-segregated accounts.

Corzine "said he understood the request and would have someone within his organization review it," but fast-moving events resulted in no one at MF Global having confirmed the matter in writing, according to the Genova testimony.

"Nevertheless," the testimony continued, "our request did result in our receiving multiple clear oral assurances from senior MF Global officials that MF Global was in compliance with its obligations under the CFTC rules."

ALL-ALSO-ON-HUFFPOST