MF Global: How Not to Manage Risk -- Securities Firm Goes Bankrupt With Seasoned Risk Team in Place


By now the bank's fate, in his view, was sealed. "When the marketplace loses trust, you can't operate anymore," said Williams. "Credit dries up, evaporates. It can happen in days, even hours."

Among the things Williams would like to know -- and that may emerge from an investigation -- is what kind of risk management controls the bank had in place. "In an environment where everybody is motivated by profit," said Williams, "you've got to have a counterbalance"-- checks and procedures to make sure, for example, that firm accounts and customer accounts remain segregated. "Who was on the risk committee? That would be interesting to know."

Not only was there a risk committee, there was -- and still is -- a chief risk officer: Michael Stockman, 63, a visiting scholar at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, where, according to MF Global's website, he shares with students his "risk management insights" and recommendations how "to avoid the next crisis."

While Stockman did not respond to ABC News' request for comment, he apparently had plenty to say on the record while at Dartmouth. Asked during a Q&A why he opted to work for MF Global, Stockman described the slot as "a really cool opportunity for someone with my skills."

Asked why an in-depth understanding of the causality of past financial crises was important for business school students to acquire, Stockman replied, "One of my bottom lines is: If you don't understand what your mistakes were, you're destined to repeat them."

Stockman said he "inherited a very athletic, so to speak, team" at MF Global.

"They're open and willing to shape this for the future with the benefit of our experience," he said

He said he "personally catalogued a series of trading and business mistakes and will pass the knowledge on to my colleagues.

"And we've got plenty of evidence that the same series of mistakes have been made over hundreds of years, believe it or not," he explained to his alma mater. "Part of my commitment is to not let those issues happen at MF Global if I can help it."

As for Corzine, his fall from glory is such that Reuters has now reported that President Obama's re-election campaign is considering returning Corzine's political donations to him if he's charged with any wrongdoing, telling Corzine, in effect, to -- in the words of another ditty -- "take back your mink, take back your pearls."

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...