Did Corzine act appropriately? How would you characterize his behavior legally, ethically, and managerially? What other choices did he have?
In the specified situation and circumstance, it is evident that Corzine failed to act appropriately. To begin with, he issued a directive with the clear knowledge that in no way could the money be recovered from other accounts apart from client assets. Additionally, he issued the directive to his subordinate knowingly to avert responsibility and not be held liable for the resulting actions.
As far as legal, ethical, and proper managerial practices are concerned, Corzine’s actions may be characterized as both irresponsible and reckless. Being a manager of a company with a large customer base, one may assume that Corzine has what it takes to manage and make decisions that best work in the firm’s interests. One may also assume that he was trusted not only by the company’s investors, but also the customers, relevant stakeholders, and the community at large to act ethically and arrive at decisions that lean on the necessary legal paradigms. As an individual of a high ranking and business, he made an unethical decision and additionally devised a poor solution to solve the problem and worst of all, he acted immaturely.
Rather than opting for uncouth means to deal with the business problem, Corzine had the bitter option of facing up with the facts and acknowledge that the company was in an upside-down position in terms of finances hence the need to declare bankruptcy. In turn, he would have opted to brainstorm ideas among the company stakeholders for new ways to obtain and raise money to be it through calling in favors from other organizations or other ways to maximize profits.
Did Ms. O’Brien behave appropriately? Realistically, what other choices did she have?
Realistically speaking, Ms. O’Brien also did not behave appropriately. Despite being under Corzine’s authority, she always had the choice to make him aware that the only account that held the money was that of customer assets before going forward with any further transactions. Since she knew what she had been instructed was wrong, she also had the option of notifying the company’s board on Corzine’s uncouth instructions. Their actions resulted in the company taking a major blow in terms of financial costs and reputational damage. As a result, the two individuals should be held fully responsible for their actions.
Should the actions of either Corzine or O’Brien (or both or neither) be considered criminally negligent? Unethical? Bad judgment? Other?
The two individuals’ actions should be considered as bad judgement, unethical, and negligent simultaneously. By choosing to transfer the funds from the customer asset account, the two individuals violated their customers’ trust hence acting unethically. By opting to take the easy way out, although not the right way to solve the issue, their actions may be considered as bad judgement. Additionally, the individuals failed to follow the company’s legal procedures and accessed the customer asset account without the customers’ consent hence criminal negligence.
What role should (or might have) the firm’s Ethics and Compliance Officer played in this drama?
The Ethics and Compliance Officer ought to have taken a bigger responsibility in the operation at hand. If the officer had been involved in the matter, there is a higher chance that the issue would have been completely avoided. It is more likely that the officer would have intervened and prevented the illegal proceedings leading to the loss of customer assets.
James O’Toole (2015). “Raiding Customer Assets at MF Global.” Retrieved from https://www.scu.edu/ethics/focus-areas/business-ethics/resources/raiding-customer-assets-at-mf-global/. Retrieved on 14 November 2019.
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