Hire Wire Mar 16 2012

House Subcommittee to Vote on Subpoena of MF Global Assistant Treasurer

By julie steinberg, aaron lucchetti and mike spector

A U.S. House subcommittee plans to decide Wednesday whether to subpoena MF Global Holdings Ltd. employee Edith O'Brien to testify at a coming hearing about the securities firm's collapse, a person familiar with the matter said Friday.

Ms. O'Brien, the company's assistant treasurer when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Oct. 31, has declined so far to be interviewed by investigators.

A lawyer representing Ms. O'Brien has told the House subcommittee that she would invoke her constitutional rights against self-incrimination and decline to answer questions if she is subpoenaed, this person said.

But the subcommittee plans to vote anyway on whether to issue the subpoena. The hearing by the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee of the House's Financial Services Committee has been set for March 28.

Ms. O'Brien is seen as a potentially important witness at the hearing because she was among the employees who oversaw the movement of money at MF Global. She now works for the bankruptcy trustee trying to maximize recoveries for MF Global customers, who still are owed an estimated $1.6 billion in money missing from a customer segregated account.

In December, former MF Global Chairman and Chief Executive Jon S., Corzine brought up Ms. O'Brien's name when he was asked about the transfer of about $175 million from a customer account to an MF Global account at J.P. Morgan Chase & Co JPM -0.74%. in London three days before MF Global's bankruptcy filing.

The subcommittee also has invited three MF Global officials to testify about the hectic final week before the firm's bankruptcy filing. The shortfall emerged during that week.

The potential witnesses are MF Global Chief Financial Officer Henri Steenkamp, General Counsel Laurie Ferber and Christine Serwinski, a finance official in the firm's Chicago office.

Mr. Steenkamp has previously testified to lawmakers that he didn't know how customer money went missing. Ms. Ferber and Ms. Serwinski haven't testified previously about the matter.

Lawyers for Ms. Ferber and Mr. Steenkamp couldn't immediately be reached for comment. Lawyers for Ms. O'Brien and Ms. Serwinski declined to comment.

Ms. Serwinski was on vacation in the days leading up to the bankruptcy, but returned the weekend before the bankruptcy filing.

Write to Julie Steinberg at Julie.Steinberg@dowjones.com, Aaron Lucchetti at aaron.lucchetti@wsj.com and Mike Spector at mike.spector@wsj.com




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