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Corzine May Be Forced to Testify in House and Senate

Hours after the House Agriculture Committee voted to subpoena former MF Global chief executive Jon Corzine, Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) scheduled a Tuesday vote that could allow the panel to also compel her former Senate colleague to testify on his firm’s demise.

“A vote of the full committee is required to make the current inquiry a formal committee investigation in order to give the committee subpoena power,” according to a release today. Stabenow called for subpoena authority in the release to force Corzine to appear to discuss his former financial firm’s bankruptcy and its $1.2 billion in missing funds.

The release also announced that Stabenow would “convene a meeting of the Agriculture Committee to vote on the matter on Tuesday.”

The panel, which oversees commodity trading and its regulatory agencies, has a hearing scheduled for Dec. 13, at which Corzine would have to appear if the committee approves the subpoena.

“MF Global’s customers, including many farmers and small business owners, trusted this firm to make purchases on their behalf and now their money is missing,” Stabenow said. “A matter of this magnitude requires a thorough investigation, and that investigation must obviously include testimony from company executives. I would expect that MF Global executives would come speak with us voluntarily, but if they will not, then we must be prepared to take necessary action.”

The House committee’s bipartisan subpoena action sets up the first public testimony by Corzine since MF Global filed for bankruptcy Dec. 31. The House hearing is set for Thursday.

“The circumstances surrounding the MF Global bankruptcy are unprecedented,” House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) said in a joint statement. “Many of our constituents have lost funds and many more have lost confidence in futures and derivatives markets, which are under the jurisdiction of our committee. … To that end, Jon Corzine’s testimony is critical to fulfill our objectives on behalf of our constituents, which is why we have taken this extraordinary step to ensure his attendance.”

Corzine, a former CEO of Goldman Sachs, represented New Jersey in the Senate from 2001 to 2006 before being elected as the state’s governor. He was defeated for re-election by Gov. Chris Christie (R) in 2009 and returned to the private sector.

Corzine joined MF Global in March 2010 and resigned earlier this month, just as the company filed for bankruptcy. The FBI and the Department of Justice recently opened criminal investigations into the MF Global bankruptcy. The $1.2 billion in unaccounted customer funds are under scrutiny in those inquiries.

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