|William J. Clinton (left) and Jon S. Corzine|
A former MF Global employee accused former president William J. Clinton of collecting $50,000 per month through his Teneo advisory firm in the months before the brokerage careened towards its Halloween filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Teneo was hired by MF Global’s former CEO Jon S. Corzine to improve his image and to enhance his connections with Clinton’s political family, said the employee, who asked that his name be withheld because he feared retribution.
“They were supposed to be helping Corzine improve his image as a CEO—I guess you can tell how that went,” he said. Corzine resigned as CEO and chairman November 4.
Before Corzine joined MF Global in May 2010, the firm was a smart and well-run commodities broker, a culture that was turned upside-down by his leadership style, he said.
“The traders would be shaking their heads,” he said. “They would come back to their desk and say, ‘Well, I thought we were going to do this—but Corzine would come by and do something else all by himself,’” he said.
The Teneo contract with MF Global lasted at least five months, he said. “The board cancelled it after Corzine resigned.”
The source, who is no longer associated with MF Global, said Teneo is a dual-track company with one side devoted to merchant and investment banking and the other side set up to provide image and strategy consulting services.
Clinton is the chairman of the company’s advisory board. His duties and compensation have not been released. The other member of the board is former British prime minister Tony Blair.
Two of the three founding partners are very close to the former president and his wife, Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton. They are Douglas J. Band, who is the former president’s counselor and has served on his personal staff since 1995 and Declan Kelly, who earned the “Hillraiser” status in the secretary’s 2008 run for president for bundling more than $100,000 for the campaign.
Another prominent member of the Clinton political family is Tom Shea. Shea is a senior vice president for Teneo Strategy and served as Corzine’s chief of staff, when Corzine was the governor of New Jersey.
Kelly sold his public relations firm Financial Dynamics in 2006 to FTI for $340 million, and stayed with that company until July 2009, when he joined the State Department as the Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland.
The source said, “Kelly was given a job they created out our whole cloth.” The job did not exist previously.
“He basically got to ride around developing a book of business, while he waited for his non-compete clause to run out,” he said.
Kelley and the former president traveled together networking and making introductions at international conferences and events, he said.
The Secretary of State also traveled with Kelly, including the October 2010 U.S. – Northern Ireland Economics Conference, which Kelly organized and at which the secretary was the featured speaker.
The secretary announced that she accepted Kelly’s resignation May 11.
Teneo landed its first major client June 1, when the Rockefeller Foundation gave Teneo a $3,447,150, six-month contract to help plan the foundation’s 2013 centennial.
The foundation is another member of the Clinton’s extended family. It gave Clinton its Lifetime Innovation Achievement Award July 27 and the foundation is listed as a between $1 to $5 million contributor to the William J. Clinton Foundation, along with several members of the Rockefeller family who are listed as individual contributors.
[In the preparation of this story, several emails and phone calls were placed to Teneo, MF Global and the State Department for comment. In each case, there was no response.]