OTR Interviews

Is an independent counsel the only hope for progress in the MF Global probe?

Are political ties hindering any progress in the MF Global investigation?

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 8, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Is former Democratic New Jersey governor Jon Corzine getting special treatment? Now, Corzine ran the brokerage firm MF Global until MF Global somehow managed to lose $1.6 billion of customer money. No one knows where that money went. Now, that's pretty odd, don't you agree?

Now, the Justice -- Department of Justice says they are now investigating, but Republican congressman Michael Grimm wants the DoJ to step aside. Why? Congressman Grimm joins us.

Good evening, sir. And I must admit I'm a little bit surprised that you want DoJ to step aside because you're a former FBI agent yourself, sir.

REP. MICHAEL GRIMM, R-N.Y.: Well, I have 100 percent faith in the FBI. What the problem here is I think is more with where the public stands with the attorney general, Eric Holder. And I think that an independent counsel is what we need.

The FBI would still be doing the investigation, and I think they're -- I'm sure they're doing a very good job. But the FBI doesn't actually prosecute the case. They gather evidence, and then they have to turn that over to the prosecutor. So that's why we're asking for, you know, a special prosecutor or independent counsel.

VAN SUSTEREN: I would suspect, though, that if it were -- the FBI is investigating, but I suspect that it wouldn't necessarily be the DoJ prosecuting it but sort of a subset of the Department of Justice which would be career prosecutors in the eastern district of New York or the southern district of New York, where they have career prosecutors. Is that something that you still don't find acceptable?

GRIMM: Well, I think this -- it's bigger than that. The problem here is that, you know, Jon Corzine is seen by most Americans, Republicans and Democrats, as someone that has access all the way at the highest levels to the president. I mean, even this past cycle from the beginning of January 2012, he's listed as one of the largest bundlers for the Obama administration.

This is after he's under investigation. So it's things like that that I think jeopardize the way people feel in America with the confidence in our system, as well as the integrity of our markets. So that's the reason why I'm calling for an independent counsel. And when you look at the history of Jon Corzine, a lot of people feel he's been given special treatment since he started with MF Global. It's one of the reasons why they had special status, you know, to be a dealer in the first place.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I should note that former governor Jon Corzine, at least according to the reports, has raised $500,000 for the Obama reelection campaign. So he certainly is a significant donor or fund-raiser for the campaign.

I'm curious, any idea -- where is this money? I mean, how does this money disappear and nobody knows where it is?

GRIMM: Well, it doesn't. And I think at this point, the money has been found. But keep in mind that doesn't mean it has been recovered, which is another reason why I think we need an independent counsel because of the way the entire bankruptcy was structured.

And I think that's a problem in and of itself because some of this money was taken as collateral and shipped overseas. And now these poor customers that were never creditors, OK, they were customers and their money was supposed to be protected in segregated accounts -- it was illegally taken out of those accounts and sent as collateral. And now it's overseas, and it was taken as collateral and it could take years.

We learned from Bear Stearns and from Lehman Brothers it could take two, three, four years if not more to fight with foreign banks now to try to get that money back, putting these customers at a massive disadvantage and really in an untenable and unacceptable position, which, again, goes to the heart of the integrity of our markets. And I think that's why independent counsel here is absolutely warranted.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you raise the question of the money in the overseas -- that was permitted a rule by the CFTC, which the chairman of that, Gary Gensler, worked at Goldman Sachs with Governor -- Senator Corzine. I mean, it's an awful, awful cozy group of people with Goldman Sachs and these -- this money. I mean -- I mean, I guess that to the extent we want to, you know, at least have the appearance of having no conflict, it certainly make (ph) much easier if we could remove -- you know, remove this -- any -- any chance of people being suspicious of an investigation.

GRIMM: You're hitting the nail on the head. I mean, you look at the relationship between Jon Corzine and Chairman Gensler, and that in and of itself is enough reason to make people suspicious.

I look at it this way. Where's the down side for the attorney general, in light of the fact that he handled Fast and Furious so terribly, in light of the Solyndra debacle -- we can look at the GSA scandal, all of these things -- he should be more than happy to turn this over to independent counsel and give people the -- at least that semblance of that there isn't any impropriety here.

VAN SUSTEREN: I -- I -- you know, I agree with you it's the appearance of which is a problem. I do know that career prosecutors, you know, farther down the command chain, you know, the -- every day, they work really hard to do really a straight-up job and they're really good, solid prosecutors. I've been up against many of them over the years, and they were tough.

But I do agree that with all this sort of -- everything being connected, that it really does -- does not -- I mean, I can understand why people would be suspicious of having the Justice Department doing it. But we'll see what happens. Congressman, thank you, sir.

GRIMM: Absolutely. And I've -- and I've worked with the southern district. They are top notch, eastern district. They're the best of the best. I'm worried about much higher than that. We're talking about the administration itself.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you, sir.

GRIMM: Thank you.