Three weeks after $600 million in customer money went missing from MF Global, the search for the cash has been hampered by the bankrupt brokerage firm’s sloppy record-keeping, an increasingly worrisome situation that has left regulators frustrated and customers in the lurch.
The round-the-clock effort consumes federal regulators and criminal investigators, with lawyers sleeping at open desks and each agency commandeering a different conference room at the firm’s offices. But as authorities comb through some 38,000 customer accounts, they are growing more suspicious about what went wrong at MF Global, the commodities powerhouse once run by Jon S. Corzine, the former Democratic governor of New Jersey.
At a bankruptcy hearing on Wednesday the trustee overseeing the liquidation of the brokerage house would not speculate on the matter, acknowledging that the money was still missing.
After MF Global filed for bankruptcy in late October, hundreds of examiners descended on the firm’s New York and Chicago offices. Since then, they have been poring over records, verifying customer accounts and interrogating the skeleton staff that remains.