Case | HBS Case Collection | June 2012 (Revised August 2012)

MF Global: Where's the Money?

by Clayton S. Rose, Pamela Chan and Raghav Chopra

Abstract

When MF Global failed in October of 2011, it was discovered that $1.6 billion of segregated customer assets was missing. Safeguarding these assets was the firm's responsibility, and in the words of one SEC official, its "sacred obligation." What is known about the missing assets is that they were taken from the accounts of customers trading in commodity futures and used in other areas of the firm; less is known about how it happened. The case describes MF Global's operating model, certain management decisions, its regulatory oversight, and the chaos of its final days, allowing for an exploration of how so much money could have gone missing. (Note: This case may be read in conjunction with its companion, "MF Global: Changing Stripes" (HBS Case 312-105), which discusses the managerial and strategic issues leading to the firm's collapse.)

Keywords: financial firms; customer obligations; bankruptcy; regulation; ethics; financial crisis; brokerage; Asset Management; Ethics; Governing Rules, Regulations, and Reforms; Financial Management; Crisis Management; Insolvency and Bankruptcy; Financial Services Industry;

Citation:

Rose, Clayton S., Pamela Chan, and Raghav Chopra. "MF Global: Where's the Money?" Harvard Business School Case 312-106, June 2012. (Revised August 2012.)