Last week, CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton unveiled a plan to give futures intermediaries’ clients Securities Investor Protection Corporation-like protections via the creation of a Futures Investor and Customer Protection Fund. Similar to the SIPC Fund, this fund would be called the Futures Investor and Customer Protection Fund, and it would be funded by fees assessed to futures commission merchants.
The idea of setting up an insurance type fund for futures clients arose following the Commission’s recent allegations against Peregrine Financial Group Inc.-the SEC is accusing the futures commission merchants of misappropriating about $215 million in customer funds of about $220 million that was on deposit-and after MF Global Inc.’s bankruptcy filing last year revealed that several hundred million dollars in client funds had been misallocated and could not be withdrawn.
Unlike the securities industry, the futures industry has never provided financial protection coverage to customers who lose money because of illegal actions or bankruptcy. Instead, the protection has come from mandating that client funds and the intermediaries should always be kept separate, which was a structure that seemed to work until the incidents involving Peregrine Financial and MF Global occurred.