Former MF Global CEO Jon Corzine’s previous role as head of Goldman Sachs has been a prevalent marker on every story about the disgraced executive and his now-bankrupt firm.
And there’s every reason to bring up the prestigious bank – as Andrew Ross Sorkin puts it, “being a former Goldmanite has long been considered the ultimate calling card” – especially if you wanted to work on Wall Street.
But now, the Goldman name, if it’s in relation to Jon Corzine anyway, is a negative stigma. Already, three people in Corzine’s network of financial industry professionals who also bear Goldman on their resume aren’t doing so hot.
Here’s a rundown:
Gary Gensler —
THEN: Gensler worked at Goldman Sachs for 18 years, where he was a partner and co-head of finance. Currently, he is the chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the principal regulator of the MF Global, a derivatives brokerage specializing in commodities.
NOW: Gensler has officially removed himself from the MF Global investigation due to a conflict of interest because of his past connection to Corzine, which has been noted by many media outlets. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley also publicly called for Gensler to leave the probe last week. Although this doesn’t impact the investigation – the WSJ points out it will generate negative sentiment for Gensler, who has flip flopped between being an opponent of tightening financial regulations to a stringent supporter of them. WSJ notes: “Well before MF Global’s collapse, Republican lawmakers had moved to slash his agency’s budget and had introduced bills to delay new authority the CFTC gained under the Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul law.”
Bradley Abelow —
THEN: The COO and President of MF Global, Abelow seems to have made a career out of following Corzine. He also has a long history at Goldman Sachs – working his way up to partner and managing director during his time there, which also coincided with Corzine’s tenure as head of the investment bank. He followed Corzine into politics in 2006, when Corzine appointed him New Jersey Treasurer following his gubernatorial seat win. In 2007, Corzine moved Abelow to the chief of staff position in his office. Abelow then joined MF Global in September 2010 (after Corzine got there in March of the same year) as COO. Corzine appointed Abelow to the newly created position of President six months later.
NOW: Corzine resigned as MF Global CEO last Friday, and no interim head has been named. After Corzine, Abelow is the most senior executive at MF Global, and will probably have to deal with the responsibility of winding down the company.
Chris Flowers —
THEN: The founder of private equity firm J.C. Flowers was a partner at Goldman and worked at the investment bank for over 20 years before it went public. Flowers helped Corzine to the top role at MF Global in March 2010, when he sat on the board of the company and pushed for Corzine to receive the job. Corzine is also an operating partner at Flower’s firm.
NOW: J.C. Flowers owns a 6% share of MF Global. In the worst case scenario, Flowers’ PE fund stands to lose $47.8 million in a stake the company had in the brokerage. This morning, Bloomberg View columnist William Cohan said Flowers was just as culpable for the collapse of MF Global as Corzine because of his strong inside connection to the company.
Seems like that Goldman link can sometimes be hazardous.