Did Jon Corzine perjure himself after all?
Corzine’s “Sgt. Schultz” defense at recent congressional hearings on the demise of MF Global and the looting of $1.6 billion from customer accounts seemed a brilliant way to avoid the embarrassment of taking the Fifth while also dodging any perjury trap.
By playing dumb on key questions, Corzine seemed to shield himself from the serious charge of lying under oath. But he did get specific about a few things — one of which is clearly contradicted by the recent trustee’s report on MF Global’s demise.
The former US senator and NJ governor — still a top Obama fund-raiser — could still be facing serious criminal charges. At the very least, it looks like he was trying to mislead Congress as it tried to get to the bottom of the MF Global mess.
In his answers, Corzine claimed ignorance of basic facts, particularly in key areas of firm compliance and controls — the divisions that were supposed to catch improper transfers of cash out of customer accounts. He said it was the job of underlings to know such facts and figures. Any mistakes, his testimony suggested, were those underlings’ fault.
He’d been assured, he said, that funds paid to creditors during the firm’s frantic final days “were properly transferred.” So went Corzine’s mantra at several Senate and House hearings. Until now, it seemed to have worked.
Corzine’s perjury problem begins when he was pushed on the issue of compliance and controls and what he did about them when he dramatically changed the firm’s business model.