The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) staked a claim on Friday as a potential creditor of failed commodities brokerage MF Global Inc, in a sign it may charge the bankrupt firm and seek monetary sanctions.
In a statement, the CFTC said it filed a claim as a "general creditor" in order to "preserve all possible options" to recover funds related to its investigation.
The CFTC and other government agencies have been examining whether MF Global misused customer funds in its final, chaotic days.
The commission said it took action so that if its investigation results in an enforcement action, it could pursue a restitution award.
It said it only planned to seek funds for the benefit of commodity customers, and that its claims would not trump direct customer claims.
MF Global filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October after its $6.3 billion bet on European debt alarmed investors and caused a liquidity crunch.
The company, which was run by former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, revealed a large deficit in funds that were supposed to be segregated for commodities trader customers.
James Giddens, who is unwinding MF Global's broker-dealer operation, in February reported that the estimated $1.6 billion customer shortfall was caused by MF Global's improper use of customer cash to cover corporate transactions.
Most MF Global customers already have received payouts of more than 72 percent of the value of their accounts and are waiting on the rest.
Giddens is expected to file a report on the status of his investigation on Monday.