WASHINGTON — Summoned by Congress, Jon Corzine embraced a bold strategy Thursday to distance himself from MF Global’s fall and $1.2 billion in missing clients’ money:
Answer each question. Be courteous. And don’t huddle with your lawyer before replying.
He said very little. Nevertheless, it was a risky strategy, even for a risk-taking financial executive. Anything Corzine might say could be used against him in a courtroom, should he ever be charged in the MF Global case.
Yet the former CEO of the securities firm never declined to answer questions by invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
The one-time senator and New Jersey governor was subpoenaed by his former colleagues to explain how MF Global collapsed just over a month ago in the eighth-largest bankruptcy in U.S. history. It’s the first time in more than 100 years that Congress has subpoenaed a former senator to testify, according to Senate historian Don Ritchie.
Wells Fargo settles bid-rigging claims for $148 million
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Wells Fargo & Co. and regulators announced Thursday a $148 million settlement to resolve accusations that Wachovia, which was purchased by Wells, participated in a bid-rigging scheme that hurt state and local governments.
It’s the fourth major bank to settle with the consortium of federal agencies and state attorneys general. Bank of America Corp. settled for $137 million last December.
The settlement is also the second Wells Fargo has made on the issue in as many months.
“We’re really pleased to resolve the issue,” Wells Fargo spokeswoman Dana Obrist said, noting that it involved activity that predated the company’s 2008 acquisition of Wachovia.
In a statement, the bank said it “cooperated fully” with the investigation and does not condone illegal activity.
The federal agencies alleged that a group of large banks conspired to defraud local governments and other entities that bought municipal derivatives, which are used to invest money from bond proceeds until they are needed for projects. Bankers coordinated what they would bid on the contracts and in some cases paid kick-backs to one another, investigators said.
A total of $54.5 million will go to towns, school districts and nonprofits around the country as part of the settlement with 26 state attorneys general.
“Rigging the system to prevent fair competition cost taxpayers, local governments and schools millions of dollars,” North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a statement. “I’m pleased that we’ve been able to win money back for those who were harmed here in North Carolina.”
Wells Fargo announced a similar settlement last month with a number of local governments who brought a civil lawsuit against Wachovia and other banks. Pending court approval, the bank will pay $37 million to settle the suit.
Obrist said the bank expects this to be the last settlement on the matter.