Farmer tells of losses in MF Global failure
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)--A Minnesota farmer told a Senate panel Dec. 13 he wants to know what became of $253,000 of his money that's gone missing in the collapse of commodities trading firm MF Global Inc.
Dean Tofteland, who raises corn, soybeans and pigs near Luverne, told the Senate Agriculture Committee that whoever was responsible for the disappearance of money from client accounts like his must be held accountable. He reminded the panel that brokers are required to keep client money separate from company funds and said co-mingling such accounts amounts to stealing.
"This money was real money in real banks. It wasn't under somebody's mattress,'' he said. "Somebody at the company knows where the money's at. We have to ask, if there's a debit there has to be a credit. Where's the credit?''
Tofteland and other victims of the eighth-largest bankruptcy in U.S. history testified just before former MF Global CEO Jon Corzine underwent his second interrogation before Congress in less than a week. An estimated $1.2 billion in client funds are missing.
Corzine told the panel he never told anyone to "misuse'' customer money. Two other top executives also tried at the hearing to distance themselves from any decision to transfer the money, and all three said they don't know where the money is.
Farmers, ranchers and agricultural businesses use brokerages like MF Global to trade on the futures markets to help reduce their risks in an industry vulnerable to swings in crop, oil and other commodity prices.
Tofteland stressed his sense of betrayal as he waits to see if he will recover all of his money in his MF Global futures and options account and another $100,000 he lost when he was forced to liquidate hedges.
"These funds were not an investment in MF Global,'' Tofteland testified. "These funds were not a loan to MF Global. These funds were simply collateral required by the exchange as a guarantee for my promise to deliver the bushels that I priced.''
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat and committee member who invited Tofteland to testify, said in a statement that it's estimated that more than 100 Minnesota farmers and businesses who had critical accounts with MF Global have been unable to access their funds since the firm filed for bankruptcy in October.