A U.S. futures regulator called on his agency to hire its own attorney to help seek recovery of missing customer funds lost in the chaotic final days of bankrupt brokerage MF Global.
Bart Chilton, a member of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), told Reuters he questioned whether attorneys hired in Britain by the trustee liquidating the broker-dealer unit of MF Global would effectively represent futures customers.
"I believe we need to have our own counsel in the UK," Chilton said. "I'm no longer convinced that our interests are aligned and out of an abundance of caution and concern that we are doing all that we can to protect customers' money, I think we should have our own UK counsel."
James Giddens, the court appointed trustee, estimates MF Global clients have lost up to $1.6 billion in funds, some of which is tied up in the United Kingdom.
A spokesman for Giddens said the CFTC was free to hire its own counsel but the trustee was 100 percent aligned with the regulatory agency.
"There is not one scintilla of difference in the goal, to get the money back as quickly as possible from the UK," said Giddens spokesman Kent Jarrell.
MF Global filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 31, after investors and customers became rattled over the firm's $6.3 billion bet on European sovereign debt and downgrades by credit rating agencies, resulting in a liquidity crunch.
The bankruptcy and the missing funds have been the focus of several congressional hearings and are under investigation by federal agencies, including the FBI and the CFTC.
None of the firm's employees have been accused of wrongdoing by the government.