MF Global Inc. commodity traders are seeking court permission to transfer cash out of the brokerage’s accounts, saying they believe MF Global currently has the funds needed to make whole each of the accountholders.
Thomas A. Butler Jr., James H. Barton Jr., Stuart Satullo and Adam Loos asked for an order that would let them withdraw 85 percent of their cash or transfer it to another registered future commission merchant, in court papers filed today. The men said they had all liquidated their accounts with the brokerage and held only cash. As customers, they should be given priority over creditors of the bankrupt estate, the group said.
“It also is indisputable that the Trustee, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”), the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group and the Securities and Exchange Commission all believe that MF Global currently holds approximately 88.4% of the segregated funds required to make whole each of the commodity accountholders, including each Movant,” lawyers for the group wrote.
Butler, president of Butler Brokerage Corp., is a floor broker at Intercontinental Exchange who said he regularly trades commodity futures contracts on behalf of himself and clients. He had $576,310.54 in his accounts after he liquidated his positions Oct. 31 upon hearing of the bankruptcy, Butler said in court papers.
Satullo had $200,020, Barton had $1.7 million and Loos had $6,000 in their respective accounts as of Nov. 7, according to court papers.
MF Global, previously run by Jon Corzine, filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 31, listing $39.7 billion in debt and $41 billion in assets and saying it has about $26 million in cash. About $593 million of MF customer funds are unaccounted for, according to a person with knowledge of regulatory probes into the firm’s collapse.
In a separate liquidation of its brokerage unit, more than 150,000 customer accounts were frozen that day, of which more than 50,000 were segregated customer commodities accounts.
James Giddens, the trustee overseeing the liquidation of the company’s brokerage, on Nov. 4 won court permission to probe the company’s directors and officers, lenders and other investors. That probe will focus on customer recoveries.
MF Global Inc. customers may have to share some of their cash with other customers unless the money missing from some accounts is found, said Stephen Harbeck, president of the Securities Investor Protection Corp.
Giddens has transferred 17,000 accounts to other firms, out of 50,000 commodity accounts he’s seeking new homes for, while releasing almost $1.6 billion in collateral. Many remaining accountholders may have to file claims for their assets, which have to be shared fairly with other claimants.
The group of commodity traders said that allowing them and similarly situated former customers to get their money “will increase the liquidity in the commodities market and therefore furthers the public interest in an efficient market for commodity transactions.”
The bankruptcy case is MF Global Holdings Ltd., 11-bk-15059, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).