Though Jon Corzine’s pronouncement–“I simply do not know where the money is”–may make his testimony today on the MF Global scandal sound anodyne and uninteresting, that seems not to be the case. In fact, the preview of Corzine’s testimony includes two statements that should get some attention.
Corzine, under whose leadership MF Global plunged into bankruptcy under a cloud of bad investments, shady deals, and missing investor cash, has decided to present himself as a mensch who is doing the country a favor by testifying. Even more revealing is his intimation that he will almost surely (unintentionally) mislead Congress today. The Washington Post reports:
In his prepared statement, Corzine says that many people in his situation would invoke their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. However, as a former senator, Corzine says, he recognizes the importance of congressional oversight and believes “it is appropriate that I attempt to respond to your inquiries.”
Though anything he says could be used against him, Corzine hedges his testimony by saying he had too little time to prepare for the hearing and only limited access to records “essential to my being able to testify accurately.”
The former statement is risible; the latter unbelievable. Is Corzine to be lauded for answering questions? Perhaps he thinks so. But to recap: Corzine made risky investments in European bonds as the continent sank toward insolvency and after he was warned by executives at MF Global about the risks; he used his influence with federal regulators to get them to back off on instituting rules that would have prevented Corzine’s activities and protected his investors from his recklessness; and several hundred million dollars of investor cash went missing, prompting an investigation into whether Corzine covered his firm’s bad bets with other people’s money.
So Corzine isn’t doing Congress any favors. But the second statement is almost shocking in its brazen disregard for the investigation. Corzine is saying he may not tell the truth at the hearing today because he didn’t have enough time to prepare the “correct” answers to possible questions. This will probably ensure that Corzine will be back to testify, as investigators will no doubt spend the next month fact checking every statement he makes today.