A: You don't. You steal it. A billion-plus bucks just doesn't get up and walk out of the room.
Former Governor and Senator Jon Corzine of New Jersey is distinguished in many ways. He's a close pal and political ally of President Obama. He's the fellow who signed the death penalty repealer in his state, holding forth with one of the most sanctimonious declarations that can be written in English (I'm not sure about French). He made a huge fortune as an investment banker before he entered politics.
More recently, he's the tall, bearded guy in the $4000 suit you saw on TV telling a House committee that, as head of the now-bellyup MF Global, he seems to have presided over the "disappearance" of over a billion dollars of depositor funds. One source of the problem might have been MF Global's fatuous investments in -- get this -- Euopean debt. But that's not Mr. Corzine's main problem.
As the New York Times reports:
Making bad bets on European sovereign debt -- like making bad bets on United States mortgage-backed securities -- isn't a crime, but improperly transferring segregated customer assets is a potential criminal violation of the securities laws and a relatively straightforward one at that. (The United States attorney's office in Manhattan is in the early stages of investigating the removal of customer assets from MF Global.)
I spoke this week to several people involved in the MF Global investigation. No one has reached any firm conclusions about how the assets were transferred, but possible innocent explanations have dwindled to almost none. And James B. Kobak Jr., a lawyer for the MF Global trustee, said in court on Friday that there were "suspicious" trades made from customer accounts. If that's the case, there may have been a deliberate and concerted effort to override MF Global's internal controls to gain access to segregated customer assets, and if that can be proved, those responsible should be prosecuted and, if convicted, go to jail.
I've been out of the US Attorney's Office for a dozen years, but as a, ummmmm, citizen concerned about our country's runaway spending and debt, I'd volunteer to go back in for a dollar a year to work on this one. No thief makes a more inviting target than one who's spent years advertising what a high-minded humanist he is.