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Rep. Johnson Statement on MF Global Bonus Plan


Location: Washington, DC

"In the world I grew up, if you got caught with your hand in the cookie jar, it got slapped. If you failed to turn in your homework, you got detention. Bad behavior begat bad consequences.

Apparently we live in a different world today. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that MF Global executives -- the same executives who oversaw the disappearance of some $1.6 billion in customer funds -- stand to gain bonuses of several hundred thousand dollars apiece under an arrangement brokered by a bankruptcy trustee.

Under this arrangement, then executives are "incentivized" to reach certain targets in making customer funds whole -- customer funds they were originally given sacred trust over. It defies logic these individuals would be offered a reward for what is at minimum a colossal and ham-handed mismanagement of funds and at worst, intentional criminal wrongdoing. These executives should not even be on this case and this proposal is a slap in the face to the farmers, ranchers and families involved.

This is not a distant and abstract financial disaster. This is one of the largest bankruptcies in history. Some 150,000 customers had their accounts frozen. Four congressional committees, the CFTC, SEC and the FBI are among the entities that have ongoing investigations into what happened to this money.

Businesses and farmers and ranchers, including many here in the heartland, are able to place their trust in futures markets because of a protection that ensures that customer funds used to guarantee trades must be segregated from broker funds. This separation of funds protects the customers' margin if the trader defaults or files for bankruptcy. Assurances that their money was safe and segregated turned out to be lies. Faith in these markets and in these institutions was shaken to the core by this 21st Century shakedown.
When former MF Global CEO Jon Corzine was subpoenaed to appear before my Agriculture Committee in December, I asked if he would be willing to put up his own considerable personal fortune to make his customers whole. He declined a straight answer.

I would wager the combined assets of these executives, along with those of Mr. Jon Corzine, would go a long way towards paying back their customers. That's what would happen in the world I grew up in.

I intend to vigorously pursue corrections to this bankruptcy plan through oversight authority of the House Agriculture Committee. Farmers, and all citizens, should be outraged."

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