House committee subpoenas former MF Global CEO Jon Corzine

The former CEO of the bankrupt investment firm has been called before a congressional committee next week.

Rich Schultz/AP/File
In this 2010 file photo, then-New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine listens during an interview with The Associated Press at his home in Hoboken, N.J. The millions that Corzine amassed at Goldman Sachs have become an alluring target for investors who were crushed by the collapse of MF Global, the brokerage firm he led until early Nov. 2011.

A U.S. House committee Friday voted to subpoena former MF Global chief Jon Corzine to testify before Congress.

The move intensifies pressure on Corzine who has been largely absent from public view since he resigned as chief executive early last month.

The House Agriculture Committee is holding a hearing on Dec. 8 to examine the collapse of the futures brokerage and the ongoing search for hundreds of millions of dollars in missing customer funds.

"It is this committee's responsibility to shed light on the facts and circumstances surrounding the bankruptcy," said Frank Lucas, the Republican chairman of committee.

A spokesman for Corzine and his lawyer, Andrew Levander, was not immediately available to comment.

MF Global filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 31, after $6.3 billion in risky bets on European sovereign debt spooked investors and an effort to sell the firm failed.

Investigators are searching for as much as $1.2 billion in missing customer money, which regulators have said the company may have diverted for its own needs.

U.S. regulators are doing a wide probe of MF Global's business practices, including its accounting and disclosures. The FBI also has shown a preliminary interest in the reason behind the missing funds.

Congress is holding a series of hearings examining whether regulators and company insiders could have done more to prevent the failure and protect investors, traders and farmers who may be out hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Senate Agriculture Committee and a House Financial Services panel have also called on Corzine and others to testify later in December.

Before becoming CEO of MF Global last year, Corzine was the governor of New Jersey. He was also CEO of Goldman Sachs in the late 1990s.

Lucas told reporters Friday that the House Agriculture Committee requested that Corzine appear, and received a letter from Corzine's attorney saying he would not be available on Dec. 8, the requested date.

"We are putting the pieces in place to compel testimony," Lucas said. "It is too important to let slide."

Friday's vote to issue a subpoena was unanimous with bipartisan backing.

"I am in full support of the endeavor we are undertaking today," said Representative Collin Peterson, the committee's top Democrat. "It is imperative that we hear directly from all those involved."

The House Agriculture Committee also expects to hear from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority -- two of the many regulators who were responsible for overseeing parts of MF Global.

A committee aide said the panel last issued a subpoena in 1996.

Neither MF Global nor its executives has been charged with wrongdoing.

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