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Corzine Resigns From MF Global; 'Poster Child Of Times'?

Jon Corzine.
Rich Schultz
Jon Corzine.
(A new top and some other material were added to this post at 11:50 a.m. ET.)

Jon Corzine is now the unofficial "poster child of the times" and the "fall guy" that all those who blame Wall Street for much of the nation's economic troubles can point to, Reuters columnists Antony Currie and Jeffrey Goldfarb write.

He "embodies all that Occupy Wall Street opposes – the elite 1 percent, failed high finance and compromised politics," they add. And not only that, "his liberal agenda is part of what catalyzed the Tea Party movement. His fate could even unite a fractious America, if only against him."

Their analysis follows word this morning that Corzine has stepped down from the CEO's post at MF Global. The news was first reported by CNBC, and shortly after by The Associated Press and Bloomberg News.

Corzine, a Democrat, is a former governor and senator from New Jersey. MF Global, a securities firm, filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday. As NPR's Zoe Chace has reported, "the company, at Corzine's urging, made big investments in European sovereign debt. Those bets turned out to be losers."

After the bankruptcy filing, as The New York Times reported, word emerged that regulators had discovered that "hundreds of millions of dollars in customer money has gone missing" from the company. That's being investigated.

According to the AP, MF Global says Corzine will decline a severance package worth $12.1 million.

Today, the Times' Deal Book blog writes that "months before MF Global teetered on the brink, federal regulators were seeking to rein in the types of risky trades that contributed to the firm's collapse. But they faced opposition from an influential opponent: Jon S. Corzine, the head of the then little-known brokerage firm. ... While other financial firms employed teams of lobbyists to fight the new regulation, MF Global's chief executive in meetings over the last year personally pressed regulators to halt their plans."

And now, according to Barrons, "remaining members of the company's board are under close scrutiny by regulators and angry former customers." Also, as The Wall Street Journal's Bankruptcy Beat blog reports, "The trustee overseeing the liquidation of MF Global's brokerage business is subpoenaing the company's top brass, including Corzine, in connection with a wide-ranging probe [of the] broker-dealer's collapse."

Corzine, not surprisingly, has hired "a leading white-collar criminal defense lawyer, according to three people briefed on the matter," The New York Times' Deal Book blog says.

Update at 8:25 a.m. ET. In Statement, Corzine Says He Feels "Great Sadness."

This statement from Corzine was just sent to reporters:

"I have voluntarily offered my resignation to the Board of Directors of MF Global. This was a difficult decision, but one that I believe is best for the firm and its stakeholders.

"I feel great sadness for what has transpired at MF Global and the impact it has had on the firm's clients, employees and many others.

"I intend to continue to assist the Company and its Board in their efforts to respond to regulatory inquiries and issues related to the disposition of the firm's assets."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott
Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.