By Aaron Mehta and Sandy Johnson, iWatch News
Jon Corzine, a one-time wizard of the financial world, testified Thursday he doesn't know where a billion dollars in investor funds went in the collapse of MF Global, the investment firm he ran until last month.
Corzine returned to the Capitol where he once served as a powerful U.S. senator from New Jersey for the first of three scheduled appearances before congressional committees.
"I simply do not know where the money is, or why the accounts have not been reconciled to date," Corzine said in prepared testimony. He said he cannot say whether there were operational errors at MF Global or whether banks or other companies are holding funds that should have been returned. Corzine resigned as CEO on Nov. 3, days after the firm collapsed in the eighth-largest bankruptcy in U.S. history.
Corzine made his mark on Wall Street, rising to become co-CEO of behemoth Goldman Sachs. After losing a power struggle with Henry Paulson, who later became Treasury secretary under George W. Bush, Corzine turned to elective politics. He was elected to the Senate in 2000 and left to successfully run for governor of New Jersey in 2005. He was defeated by Chris Christie in 2009 and returned to the world of finance.
Over the years, Corzine has been a prolific campaign contributor. He gave at least $5.3 million in political donations going back to 1984, according to an analysis by iWatch News of CQMoneyline data. The donations were from his personal fortune, not his campaigns.
His largest recipients were the major Democratic campaign committees, whose job is to help elect other members of his party. The Democratic National Committee (at least $1.8 million), Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (at least $1.4 million), and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (at least $140,000) all received large chunks from Corzine, who took full advantage of old campaign limits that were not as restrictive as those in place now to donate large sums of money.
Among members of Congress, Corzine was particularly friendly to Montana Sen. Max Baucus (at least $34,000), New Jersey Rep. Rush Holt (at least $24,000) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada (at least $18,000).
His failure at MF Global also puts a crimp in the campaign treasury of President Obama. As iWatch News reported, Corzine had already become a $500,000-plus bundler for the president's re-election, the top level disclosed by the campaign, before his personal fortunes went south. It is widely believed Corzine had hoped to get a high-level position in the administration if Obama wins a second term.
Some of these erstwhile friends in Washington are now grilling Corzine on the MF Global collapse. A few blocks away from the Capitol, federal regulators and the FBI are investigating the case as well.