A series of bankruptcies by large financial institutions in recent years resulted in massive shortages of customer funds. The first of those failures, Refco, Inc. (Refco), occurred in 2005 after the exposure of a massive fraud by its officers. That debacle was followed in 2007 by the failure of Sentinel Management Group, Inc. (Sentinel), which had used several hundred million dollars of customer assets to leverage the firm's trading position. The failure of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (Lehman or Lehman Brothers) during the Financial Crisis in 2008 was the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history and resulted in extensive litigation over rights to customer funds held in custody here and abroad. The Lehman debacle was soon followed by the unraveling of Bernie Madoff's massive Ponzi scheme, which led to billions of dollars of losses in customer funds. Only a few months later, U.S. authorities charged that R. Allen Stanford had been running another giant Ponzi scheme out of Antigua that involved $7 billion in customer funds. A shortage of some $1.2 billion in customer funds was discovered after MF Global Inc. (MF Global) declared bankruptcy in October 2011. That highly publicized failure was followed by a massive fraud at Peregrine Financial Group Inc. (Peregrine or. PFG), where the firm's owner simply looted nearly $215 million in customer funds held in custody.
Jerry W. Markham, Custodial Requirements for Customer Funds, 8 Brook. J. Corp. Fin. & Com. L. 92, 133 (2013).