The U.S. trustee for bankrupt MF Global Holdings Inc is working to recover $700 million of client funds held by the broker's UK affiliate for U.S. customers that were trading in overseas markets, the trustee's spokesman said on Tuesday.
James Giddens, the court-appointed trustee liquidating the brokerage, told a teleconference with MF Global clients that he was trying to recover $70 million in cash and $630 million in T-Bills from MF Global UK, according to John Roe, co-founder of the Chicago-based Commodity Customer Coalition, which represents more than 8,000 MF Global customer accounts.
A spokesman for Giddens later clarified that the U.K. funds were separate from the $1.2 billion that he estimates are missing from U.S. customer accounts. Typically brokers account for U.S. and foreign exchange collateral separately, with U.S. funds more closely regulated.
"It's not the missing money. This doesn't change the $1.2 billion at all," Kent Jarrell told Reuters. "We've known this was tied up with the UK administrator. This is not suddenly found money. This is money that we knew would be hard to get."
Regulators have been seeking the lost money since MF Global executives said it was missing, hours before the once leading brokerage filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 31.
Jarrell said the trustee was in discussion with UK trustee KPMG over recovering the funds.
"We are going to claim that those are the assets of our customers but we don't have control over that money. We'll pursue them vigorously but it's been our experience that we may not get that money back. The recovery of those assets may take some time and we may not get that back. Any money that we don't get back would translate into a shortfall for our customers."
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission's Jill Sommers last week told Reuters in an interview that the CFTC's investigation was "far enough along the trail" to be able to determine where customer money went.
MF Global filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 31 after it was forced to reveal that it had made a $6.3 billion bet on European sovereign debt, spooking investors and customers.
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