In December the two US trustees finally settled their differences, largely in favor of the customers, and together reached an agreement with the MFGUK administrators in January. A distribution plan was filed with the court on February 4, and the following details are drawn from court documents filed by the MFGI trustee.
Claims for the commodities and securities customers were divided into several classes, with each customer within a particular class expected to receive a percentage of its "determined," or trustee-approved, claim:
- Owners of physical commodities held for delivery against futures positions were put into a special class of bankruptcy claims and have already been paid 100% of their claims.
- Securities customers are expected to receive 100% of their claims. In fact, most individual securities investors were already covered by the Security Investors Protection Corporation (SIPC), a fund that covers losses in the event that a brokerage firm fails and customer cash and/or securities are missing.
- Owners of 4d property - named after the section of the Commodity Exchange Act covering segregated customer funds, and consisting of customers holding futures and options traded on US exchanges - are expected to receive 93% of their claims.
- Owners of 30.7 property - named after the section of the CFTC regulations that requires futures and options traded on foreign exchanges to be kept separate, and consisting of customers holding futures and options traded on foreign exchanges - are expected to receive 54% now, and perhaps as much as 82% eventually as additional property is recovered
For MF Global's former US futures and options customers, 93 cents on the dollar is much better than the 72 cents that they received at the outset. But it is still less than the full 100 cents that they felt they deserved.
For decades, futures/options traders have been assured that they would be fully protected in the event of a brokerage firm default, but these assurances proved to be false. And while a loss of 7 cents on the dollar may not sound like much, it means that customers as a group lost more than $52 million on the approximately $750 million in 4d property.
In contrast, stock/bond customers will recover everything they lost, with the losses covered by SIPC. This has prompted interest in creating a SIPC-like fund for futures/options customers. SIPC was created by Congress in 1970 in response to a rash of financial problems in the securities industry.