It’s not something you hope to hear from the CEO of a recently bankrupt financial firm: “I simply do not know where the money is.”
But that was the answer former MF Global chief executive Jon Corzine had Thursday about $1.2 billion in missing customer funds when he testified before a congressional committee.
As USA Today reports, Corzine “portrayed himself as stunned about the massive shortfall that emerged as regulators and federal investigators began probing MF Global’s Oct. 31 bankruptcy.” Members of the panel – the first of three committees that want Corzine to testify – were more than a little skeptical.
Corzine, whose credits include formerly being governor of New Jersey, a U.S. senator, and head of Goldman Sachs, testified under subpoena before the House Agriculture Committee. It was the first time he’d publicly addressed the growing scandal. The Justice Department, the FBI and other government agencies are investigating whether client funds were illegally siphoned off to prop up the firm as it was imploding under the weight of $6 billion the firm had invested in European government debt.
Today, December 9, is the United Nations’ annual “Anti-Corruption Day” – which the General Assembly designated in 2003 in conjunction with its adoption of the UN Convention against Corruption.
“On this International Anti-Corruption Day, let us pledge to do our part by cracking down on corruption, shaming those who practice it and engendering a culture that values ethical behaviour,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement Friday.
“Although the poor may be marginalized by corruption, they will not be silenced,” he said, making a particular reference to the Arab Spring.
“In events across the Arab world and beyond this year, ordinary people have joined their voices in denouncing corruption and demanding that governments combat this crime against democracy,” Ban said.
The vast majority of the world’s nations have signed on to the Convention Against Corruption – but there are still some holdouts, including North Korea, Chad, Equatorial Guinea and Oman, to name a few. Somalia, where Ban made a surprise visit Friday, has also yet to sign the treaty.
Read more about the United Nations Convention against Corruption: http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/treaties/CAC/
When it comes to corruption, sometimes even the most hardened despots and crooked officials need a little help. After all, once you make off with the loot, you’ve got to stash it somewhere -and that money isn’t going to launder itself.
A report by the Bond anti-corruption group, released Friday to coincide with Anti-Corruption Day, points to the role of British bankers and others in the UK’s financial sector as a go-to source for corrupt funds from around the world – and says the British government is failing to stop such facilitators.
As The Guardian writes, Bond’s report concludes “not enough action has been taken against lawyers, bankers and accountants who handle corrupt transactions, with very few attempts to prosecute facilitators of corruption,” and that “even the few civil corruption-related cases that have occurred suggest a reluctance to recognise the role by bankers or lawyers.”
The report cites a number of cases, the Guardian writes, among them a 2008 instance where a London-based lawyer was cleared of liability in helping former Zambian president Frederick Chiluba steal state funds. In another instance, a Nigerian court found two officials brought their corrupt funds to Britain where they were “accepted by banks in London.”