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Corzine resigns from MF Global, won't seek severance

Former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine resigned from MF Global, following the firm's collapse four days ago and an investigation into missing funds. NBC's Brian Williams reports.

 

Jon Corzine has stepped down as head of MF Global amid allegations that the brokerage firm crossed a hard-and-fast line on Wall Street against using clients' money for its own purposes. 

MF Global's board announced the resignation in a brief statement released before the markets opened Friday. It was an ignominious fall for the former New Jersey governor and Democratic senator who once ran Goldman Sachs.

"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," Corzine said in a statement.

"This was a difficult decision, but one that I believe is best for the firm and its stakeholders," he said.

MF's statement said Corzine will not seek severance, which could have amounted to a total package of $12.1 million, including cash and benefits, according to The Associated Press.

The firm is being probed by the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission because it has not accounted for hundreds of millions of dollars worth of clients' money.

"We will look at every aspect of how the firm conducted business," Mary Schapiro, chairman of the SEC, told Reuters Thursday.

Earlier this week, the 230-year-old brokerage admitted it had used clients' money as its financial troubles increased amid bad bets on European debt. An MF Global executive made the admission to federal regulators in a phone call early Monday after regulators discovered money missing from clients' accounts, The Associated Press reported, citing an official familiar with the conversation.

Government rules require securities firms to keep clients' money and company money in separate accounts. Violating the rule could result in civil penalties.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the firm may have masked the level of debt it had by temporarily cutting the debt it was carrying before reporting its finances each quarter. The story was based on analysis by the WSJ. 

The WSJ also reported that Corzine, 64, has hired prominent, white-collar defense attorney Andrew Levander of Dechert LLP.