Lucas Jackson / Reuters
Jon Corzine, former chairman and chief executive officer of MF Global Holdings, has been subpoenaed by a congressional panel to testify about the brokerage's collapse and the missing millions of its clients' money.
The Senate Agriculture Committee unanimously voted Tuesday to issue a subpoena to former New Jersey Democratic senator and governor Jon Corzine about the events leading to the bankruptcy of his brokerage firm, MF Global. Its hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday.
The House Agriculture Committee holds its hearing Thursday morning to hear from Corzine, who served in the Senate from 2001 to 2006 and as governor from 2006 until 2010.
In his opening remarks, former MF Global chief Jon Corzine tells a house committee he's "devastated" by the failure of MF Global, but more concerned for those who used, and relied on the company.
(While agriculture might seem a long way from Wall Street, the ag committees have jurisdiction over futures markets.)
This is almost certainly the first time in more than 100 years that a congressional committee has subpoenaed a former senator. Senate historian Don Ritchie said that as far as his office can determine, no such subpoena has been issued since 1908.
When the House Agriculture Committee subpoenaed Corzine, its chairman, Rep. Frank Lucas, R- Okla., and ranking member Rep. 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…. Jon Corzine’s testimony is critical” to finding out what led to his firm’s collapse.
In the 1908 case, two former senators, Marion Butler of North Carolina, a Populist, and Matthew Butler of South Carolina, a Democrat, testified about their work as lawyers and spokesmen representing the Electric Boat Company and one of its predecessor companies, the Holland Boat Company, both of which made submarines.
(Electric Boat, now a division of General Dynamics, is still making subs at its shipyard in Groton, Conn. Its latest, the U.S.S. Mississippi, was christened Saturday.)
Back in 1908, a House member from Connecticut, George Lilley, a Republican, alleged in 1908 that Electric Boat had used campaign contributions and entertainment of members of Congress to win Navy contracts for the company and to suppress competition in submarine building.
Former senator Matthew Butler testified that during submarine tests on the Potomac River, the company had provided food and drink to members of Congress attending the tests. But he denied any improper or unethical behavior.
“I do not think any suspicion of bribery could be connected with asking a member of Congress to take a drink,” Butler told the House investigating committee.
CNBC's Kayla Tausche has the list of MF Global witnesses called to Capitol Hill next week, including Jon Corzine, former CEO of MF Global.
The committee concluded that no House member had been corruptly influenced by the Electric Boat Company or anyone else. And the House ethics committee later concluded that Lilley had made false allegations of corruption.