Minnesota farms stuck in middle of MF Global scandal

6:31 PM, Dec 6, 2011   |    comments
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +

AUSTIN, Minn.-- Farmers take chances every year with the weather, crops and prices. Dennis Magnuson knows all about the risks of farming. He's been doing it for 40 years. But recently he got swept into a huge risk he never saw coming.

Magnuson had a substantial amount of money invested with MF Global to help stabilize the cost of feed for his pigs. That money is now missing and an intense federal investigation into the bankrupt broker is underway. But Magnuson believes it's too little too late.

"It's just disappointing. I mean, to me I thought everything was in place and protected but obviously it was not in place so someone was not doing their job," he said.

Magnuson is only one of an estimated 100 Minnesota farmers who have lost money in the scandal. There's more than $1 billion missing from customers' accounts.

Federal regulators are trying to follow the money and determine if MF Global illegally used money from client accounts. But MF Global's poor record keeping is making it difficult.

"We continue to work through those issues but we have not located all the funds that are missing," Jill Sommers, commissioner of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission said during a hearing on Tuesday.

This week the CFTC passed a new rule limiting firms from using customer money for certain investments. Senator Amy Klobuchar, who sits on the Senate Agriculture Committee, says she believes this is a start to accountability.

"This is not your traditional changes to some of the banking rules. This is about commodities trading and it's looking at how the disclosure forms look as well as the limitations on what they should be able to invest in," Klobuchar said.

Some farmers have been able to recover some of their money, including Magnuson, though he said 40 percent of his funds are still unaccounted for.

He's not sure when or if he will see his money again but said he has enough cash on hand to stay in business.

"We'll make. It's fine. But, it's money that we earned. It was our money and it just disappeared," he said.

Those who are missing money are expected to be able to recover at least two-thirds of what they've lost, according to Klobuchar. There is another hearing scheduled for next week where top MF Global executives are being subpoenaed to testify, including Jon Corzine, the company's embattled former chairman and chief executive officer.

(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Most Watched Videos