WASHINGTON — House Republicans issued a report Thursday that blames the failure of brokerage firm MF Global on former Sen. Jon Corzine's leadership of the firm, adding that a lack of coordination among regulators also played a role.
The report by the House Financial Services Committee's subcommittee on oversight and investigations describes an "authoritarian atmosphere" created by Corzine and says that the former lawmaker and governor insulated his trades from the standard review process. The company also failed to disclose the extent of its risk-taking, including its total European bond holdings, the study finds. Lawmakers did not weigh in on whether Corzine should face criminal charges.
The staff report also charges that the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission failed to share "critical" information with each other leading up to the firm's bankruptcy.
"Despite the promise of Dodd-Frank that regulators would work together, what the subcommittee's investigation found is that there was no meaningful coordination among the federal regulators who were responsible for the supervision of MF Global," said Chairman Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., at a press conference. "Federal regulators failed to share critical information about MF Global with one another, and this left each regulator with an incomplete understanding of the company's financial health."
As such, the report suggests that Congress explore merging the two agencies.
"The apparent inability of these agencies to coordinate their regulatory oversight efforts or to share vital information with one another, coupled with the reality that futures products, markets and market participants have converged, compel the subcommittee to recommend that Congress explore whether customers and investors would be better served if the SEC and the CFTC streamline their operations or merge into a single financial regulatory agency that would have oversight of capital markets as a whole," it says.
Rep. Randy Neugebauer of Texas, chairman of the subcommittee, said at the press event that he requested the report to open a dialogue about the issue, adding that no legislation is pending right now to address any of the problems discovered.
"There is no legislation recommendation in this report," he said. "The purpose was to begin the discussion. Many times the government wants to run out and pass new regulations, first we need to find out what happened and why it happened and also give the industry the opportunity to bring forth what they think are solutions."
Rep. Michael Capuano, the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, did not sign on to the report, citing insufficient time to review it. He said in a written statement that he is planning an addendum for the report along with the other minority subcommittee members.
"While I agree with a number of the report's observations and recommendations, others require additional commentary," the Massachusetts lawmaker said.