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Report on MF Global collapse blasts regulators

WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans on Thursday delivered a long-awaited ‘‘autopsy’’ report on MF Global, sharply criticizing regulators for failing to share information as the brokerage firm was reeling.

The 100-page report, from Republican members of the House Financial Services Committee’s oversight panel, describes a ‘‘disorganized and haphazard’’ approach to regulatory oversight in the week before MF Global collapsed in 2011. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to the report, failed to coordinate as the firm was on the brink.

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Two days before the collapse of the firm, top SEC officials joked about three conference calls among regulators being scheduled for 10 a.m. ‘‘Ahhhh, coordination in action!’’ Mary L. Schapiro, chairwoman of the SEC, wrote in an e-mail to Robert W. Cook, the agency’s head of trading and markets.

In the final hours before bankruptcy, the report said, MF Global officials said the futures commission ‘‘pressured’’ the firm to transfer $220 million to plug a hole in customer accounts. It did so over the objections of the SEC and other regulators. When Schapiro learned of the futures commission’s orders, she responded in an e-mail to a colleague, ‘‘Without telling us? That is unacceptable.’’

The e-mails underscored the breakdown in communication among federal officials that, according to the report, contributed to the firm’s demise. The report also took aim at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, saying it ‘‘should have exercised greater caution’’ when approving MF Global’s application for the coveted status of selling securities on the Fed’s behalf.

Placing blame

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Lawmakers suggested that investors and customers would have been better served if the SEC and the futures commission streamlined their operations or combined into a single agency that oversaw all capital markets, citing ‘‘an apparent inability’’ of the regulators to coordinate their actions.

‘’We didn’t need additional regulation. We needed regulators actually doing their job,’’ Representative Randy Neugebauer, a Texas Republuican who led the investigation as chairman of the oversight panel, said at a news conference Thursday.

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Futures commission officials declined to comment. John Nester, a spokesman for the SEC, said his agency would review the panel’s findings.

The report, a sort of public shaming of MF Global’s employees and federal watchdogs, further traced the debacle to the firm’s top executives. Republicans placed blame on the former chief executive, Jon S. Corzine, who they say ratcheted up a bet on European debt without regard for internal controls or the danger to clients. The report also argued that the firm was not ‘‘forthright with regulators or the public’’ about the massive trade and its broader health.

Republicans released the report months later than anticipated and without the support of House Democrats.

Some dissent was sowed in congressional hearings.

On Wednesday, the oversight panel’s top Democrat, Representative Michael Capuano of Massachusetts, declined to endorse Neugebauer’s findings, saying he agreed with a number of the conclusions but needed additional time to review the document. He said he would soon file an addendum to the report.

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