Former MF Global chief Jon Corzine corrected his earlier statements about the hundreds of millions of dollars in missing customer money, telling lawmakers on Tuesday there was no way to confuse anything he said as an authorization to raid those funds.
He also conceded there were "break the glass" contingency plans at the now-bankrupt futures brokerage, but under questioning denied that tapping customer funds was recommended.
The Senate Agriculture Committee held on Tuesday the second hearing in under a week to feature Corzine, who has said he does not know what happened to the money.
Corzine told lawmakers last week that he "never intended" to break rules about keeping customer funds segregated from firm money, but said that an employee may have misinterpreted instructions to try to save the firm.
"Someone could misinterpret 'You gotta fix it,' which I said the evening of October 30th,'" Corzine said on Dec. 8.
On Tuesday, Corzine said, "I want to be clear - I never gave any instructions to misuse customer funds, I never intended anyone at MF Global to misuse customer funds."
The futures brokerage filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 31, after it was forced to reveal it bet $6.3 billion on European sovereign debt. That disclosure caused ratings downgrades and saw nervous investors and customers begin to flee the firm.
Corzine resigned as chief executive days after the bankruptcy filing.
The search for the missing customer funds has sent reverberations through the farm belt and trading floors, and has attracted the attention of the FBI and federal prosecutors. They are trying to determine whether customer funds were diverted to firm accounts, a major violation of industry rules.
In the meantime, thousands of customers have had their money frozen, although some has been returned as the trustee in the bankruptcy sorts through MF Global's records.
Corzine, dressed in a somber dark suit with his lawyer seated behind him, reiterated on Tuesday that he does not know where the money is.
He was joined by two top-ranking Mf Global executives, Chief Operating Officer Bradley Abelow and Chief Financial Officer Henri Steenkamp, who also said they lacked answers about the money.
Senator Pat Roberts, the top Republican on the committee, asked the executives and Corzine whether MF Global leadership asked for and received "an actual plan that would break the glass and tap into your customers' segregated accounts, perhaps described as a loan."
Corzine admitted there were contingency plans that "fall under the rubric" that Roberts was talking about, but he said it did not involving raiding customer money.