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Figure in brokerage failure out as adviser to EPA
MF Global exec off board
Question of the Day
Bradley I. Abelow, a key figure in the collapse of brokerage house MF Global Holdings Ltd., has left his post as chairman of an outside board providing financial advice to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The move comes months after Mr. Abelow, chief operating officer at MF Global, appeared before Congress as lawmakers from both parties questioned how he and other top officials - including former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine - could not account for about $1.2 billion in customer accounts that went missing before the company’s collapse.
Meanwhile, EPA officials have steadfastly declined to discuss Mr. Abelow’s continuing role chairing the advisory board months after he emerged as the public face of one of the largest bankruptcies in U.S. history.
Officials never announced Mr. Abelow’s departure from the board, but the move recently became clear when the financial advisory board’s website dropped Mr. Abelow’s name as chairman and replaced it with the word vacant.
“In Abelow, you have a Wall Street executive who just presided over the disappearance of $1 billion in investor funds purporting to help guide federal infrastructure financing,” Jeff Ruch, president of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, said at the time.
Officials have not stated how Mr. Abelow ended up on the EPA’s financial advisory board, but he knew EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson from their time working together in the New Jersey government under Mr. Corzine.
Mr. Abelow and Ms. Jackson both worked as chief of staff for Mr. Corzine. Mr. Abelow, who followed Mr. Corzine to MF Global, also has been a big Democratic Party donor over the years. He’s given more than $90,000 to Democratic candidates and causes, according to data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
The donations included $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee and $10,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
“As the president and chief operating officer of MF Global, I am deeply sorry for the hardship they have all endured,” he told the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry in December.
During two days of congressional hearings in December into how as much as $1.2 billion disappeared from MF Global customer accounts, Mr. Abelow responded again and again that he did not know what happened to all of the funds. House and Senate members who interrogated him and other top company executives did not mention Mr. Abelow’s role as a financial adviser for the EPA.
An attorney for Mr. Abelow did not return email messages Monday, but a company spokeswoman told The Times in December that he was evaluating his outside obligations.
Mr. Abelow testified at the time that his total compensation at MF Global was a guaranteed $3 million. He joined the firm in September 2010 as chief operating officer, then was named president in March. Mr. Corzine has since resigned.
The environmental financial advisory board is a little-known panel with voluntary appointees from industry, government and other backgrounds. The board was chartered in 1989 to “provide advice and analysis to EPA’s administrator on paying for the growing costs of environmental protection,” according to the EPA website.
In recent months, the board issued a letter to the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation on financing clean-air technology. The letter discussed ways to incentivize boiler-facility owners to comply with environmental standards.
Mr. Abelow has remained at MF Global following the bankruptcy. Last month, former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh, who is serving as trustee overseeing MF Global, told a Senate panel he was not paying bonuses to Mr. Abelow and other top executives after reports that compensation deals were in the works.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Jim McElhatton is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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