The former New Jersey politician and Goldman Sachs boss looked "pained" over the weekend while trying to sort out the mess of his latest firm, the "mini-Goldman" MF Global, which filed for bankruptcy on Monday. After taking risks on European debt, the company was low on capital with a free-falling stock when CEO Jon Corzine started "scrambling to cut a deal to save his firm." He nearly did it, too, securing "a handshake agreement" with one buyer:
Then the chief executive was interrupted to handle a brief conversation that would stop the deal talks cold: hundreds of millions of dollars in customer funds, he was told, could not be located.
About $630 million, actually, which is more than enough to get federal investigators interested. And Corzine wasn't the only one having a hard time in those final hours: "J. Christopher Flowers, the MF Global investor and former Goldman executive, was spotted at the talks on Sunday wearing mismatched shoes." Most of the other MF Global employees, who will be out of job in a tough climate, had given up by Friday. "They were staying home or working from home," said one trading adviser. "What was the point of coming in?"