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Report: Shortly Before MF Global Collapse, Corzine Was Château Shopping

Former MF Global Holdings Ltd. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jon Corzine testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Susan Walsh
Former MF Global Holdings Ltd. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jon Corzine testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington.

In its February issue, Vanity Fair has a long report on Jon Corzine, the former head of Goldman Sachs and former Democratic governor of New Jersey. Corzine has been in the news lately for his role in MF Global, which last year collapsed spectacularly and left $1.2 billion in client money missing.

The piece talks to friends and former associates of Corzine and paints a picture of a CEO who took great risks and micromanaged.

"He managed the process soup to nuts," a former employee told Vanity Fair. "He knew every number back and forth. He'd talk to the accountants and the board. He's not a detail-oriented guy, but on this he knew every detail."

The magazine's account seems to go against what Corzine told Congress in December, when he defended his time at MF Global saying he reduced the level of risk at the firm. Corzine also said he did not know where the missing $1.2 billion went.

There is one detail in the piece that will surely have many up in arms. The magazine reports that Corzine, who received a $12.1 million severance package from MF Global, was in France shortly before the firm went belly up. They explain what he was doing:

"... On October 15, two weeks before MF Global filed for bankruptcy, Corzine and his wife, Sharon Elghanayan, were at a birthday party in Paris talking about a château they were about to buy in the South of France. 'It's not in Cap Ferrat,' one person recalls Elghanayan saying, perhaps to mitigate the extravagance. 'To buy any decent château is at least a couple of million euros,' explains another person who was at the party, 'and that is before the renovation with the air-conditioning and the new kitchen. Sharon was very excited. She said she was flying down there on Monday morning.'"

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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