August 20, 2012

Corzine Starting a Hedge Fund? Outrageous, Maybe, but Not Unprecedented

As the criminal investigation into the former MF Global head is dropped, rumors swirl about his next gig

After $1.6 billion went missing from MF Global, Jon Corzine said,  “I simply do not know where the money is.” (Photo: AP) After $1.6 billion went missing from MF Global, Jon Corzine said, “I simply do not know where the money is.” (Photo: AP)

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Once again, F. Scott Fitzgerald is proven wrong, and there are second (fourth, fifth) acts in American lives.

Jon Corzine is the latest to rise from the ashes—MF Global debris that’s barely 10 months old. Late last week, The New York Times’ DealBook blog reported that prosecutors are dropping their criminal investigation into the former Goldman Sachs head/governor/disgraced MF Global CEO. In an additional eyebrow raise, the paper reports that Corzine might start a hedge fund as his next move.

Outrageous? Some would say yes, considering Corzine’s disastrous testimony before Congress late in 2011, in which he said, “I simply do not know where the money is” when asked about $1.6 billion in missing assets—money still unaccounted for.

But is it unprecedented?

No, and Forbes notes several high-profile company busts, and the chutzpah of the people involved.

Topping that list is John Meriwether, the former head of the collapsed Long-Term Capital Management. So entwined was the firm with major players in the U.S economy that when it imploded, it almost set off a chain reaction that would bring much of the world with it. It eventually received $3.6 billion in government backing. But as Forbes notes, rather than slink away, Meriwether later founded other hedge funds including JWM Partners. When that hedge fund suffered heavy losses in the financial crisis, he simply shut its doors and started yet another.

Barry Minkow, a convicted felon who went to jail for conducting a $100 million Ponzi scheme during the 1980s, rejoined society after serving 25 years in jail. Like Frank Abagnale Jr., of “Catch Me If You Can” fame, Minkow sought redemption by working as a detective helping the FBI and SEC identify financial fraud. Last year, he was sentenced to another prison term for securities fraud.

Although it’s still a rumor at this point, people are already lining up to give Corzine his 2 and 20.

Quoting Business Insider, Forbes notes that Anthony Scaramucci, who founded the hedge fund SkyBridge Capital and worked under Corzine at Goldman, seems to have no qualms with handing over money to his disgraced former boss. "Yes, I trust Jon Corzine," he told Business Insider, "and think if he starts a fund he will make money and be very successful.”

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