With Christmas two days away, U.S. customers of collapsed broker-dealer MF Global with funds still tied up in the rubble of the company bankruptcy just got a nasty present: a statement by the trustee fighting on their behalf telling them how accountants in London are making it even harder for them to get their money back.
On Friday, the office of James W. Giddens, Trustee for the liquidation of MF Global Inc. said it would "dispute the classification under U.K. law" of $600 to $700 million currently held in segregated customer accounts in the United Kingdom.
In an interview with the International Business Times, Kent Jarrell, the spokesman for the Trustee, further added his office is ready to sue in British court to get back those funds.
Last week, KPMG, the administrator for the liquidation of MF Global's British arm announced it had recovered £795 million ($1.25 billion) from both customers accounts and corporate funds held by MF Global in that country. That amount is slightly more than the £724 million U.K. customers had in segregated accounts with MF at the time of the firm's fall, meaning it is likely customers there will be paid out in full, with some money left over to pay creditors.
In its announcement, KPMG said £594 million of the funds it had been able to recover had been in "client monies held by clearing houses, exchanges and Brokers." While that is still accurate, what KPMG did not mention at the time was more than half of those funds apparently used to belong to American clients.
"We're hoping that if they go ahead for distribution, they will take into account the reserves" of U.S. clients, Jarrell said, adding "If they don't take into account the reserve, we're prepared to litigate."
"I am disappointed in the U.K. administrators' position," Giddens, the Trustee, said in a statement. "While we have made significant progress in identifying and distributing customer property held by U.S. depositories, the U.K. administrators' position will significantly affect, in the near term, my ability to return a substantial amount to U.S. customers dealing in foreign futures."
It is not the first hint from the Trustee that it will be difficult to recover U.S. consumer funds that MF Global might have allocated overseas, for example, in accounts at the London Metals Exchange.
In a late-November statement, while announcing that the shortfall in U.S. customer funds was larger than initially noted, Giddens said "it has been his experience that recovery of these foreign assets may take more time."