* NFA-approved rule close to CFTC approval -sources
* Rule requires CEO, CFO to sign off on big fund transfers
By Alexandra Alper
WASHINGTON, July 11 The U.S. futures regulator
is poised to approve a rule aimed at holding futures executives
accountable for customer funds, days after a $220 million
shortfall at PFGBest sent the futures broker spiraling into
bankruptcy, two sources told Reuters.
The rule, which would require top executives at futures
brokers to sign off on major withdrawals from customer accounts,
has gotten the "ok" from at least three commissioners at the
Commodity Futures Trading Commission, said the sources who were
not authorized to speak on the record.
The measure, proposed by the National Futures Association,
was dubbed the "Corzine rule," after the former CEO of MF
Global. That firm collapsed last October after investors and
customers became rattled over its multibillion-dollar bet on
European sovereign debt and downgrades by credit rating
agencies, resulting in a liquidity crunch.
An estimated $1.6 billion in customer funds went missing at
The rule's approval may be welcome news to a futures
industry still jittery after the failure of a second major
brokerage less than nine months after MF Global's.
On Monday, the NFA froze funds at Iowa-based brokerage
Peregrine Financial Group, which does business as PFGBest, after
discovering an estimated $2 20 million sh ortfall in PFGBest's
A day later, the CFTC sued the brokerage, alleging PFG and
its owner had defrauded customers and lied to regulators in
order to hide the deficit.
Later that evening, Peregrine filed to liquidate under
Chapter 7 of the U.S. bankruptcy code.
REFORM INCHES FORWARD
The NFA's board approved the proposed rule along with
several others, and submitted them to the CFTC in May.
Under the proposed "Corzine rule," futures brokers would
need to get written approval from the chief executive, the chief
financial officer or another designated officer for the
withdrawal of more than 25 percent of a customer's excess funds.
Excess customer funds are funds held by the broker above and
beyond what is needed to back a customer's trades.
Under existing industry rules there is no limitation on the
amount a broker could move from a customer's excess funds.
A CFTC spokesman was not immediately available for comment.