By Nick Brown
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. bankruptcy court judge on Friday approved a $2.2 billion bulk transfer that would bring the recovery of nearly all U.S. commodities customers of fallen brokerage MF Global to about 72 percent of their accounts.
The judge overruled several objections to the transfer, including some from customers who traded on foreign exchanges, which are not included in the transfers. Lawyers for James Giddens, the trustee unwinding the brokerage, said MF Global owes about $878 million on foreign accounts.
Most of the transfer should be completed in a few days, but portions of it could take as long as four weeks, the lawyers said.
A lawyer for the trustee unwinding MF Global's brokerage acknowledged at a hearing that there were suspicious transfers from customer accounts leading up to the October 31 collapse of the firm headed by former Chief Executive Officer Jon Corzine.
James Kobak, lead attorney for trustee James Giddens, told the judge that he could not go into details of an ongoing investigation into what caused a major shortfall in MF Global's customer funds.
But when the judge asked whether the investigation suggested "suspicious or unexplained" transfers from customer accounts leading up to the collapse, Kobak, after a pause, answered in the affirmative.
Hundreds of millions of dollars missing from client accounts was a major topic of a U.S. Agriculture Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday. Corzine, a former Goldman Sachs executive, U.S. senator and New Jersey governor, said he did not know where the missing money was.
The liquidation case is In re MF Global Inc, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-2790.
The MF Global bankruptcy is In Re MF Global Holdings Ltd, in the same court, No. 11-15059.
(Reporting by Nick Brown, editing by Grant McCool and Lisa Von Ahn)