On Edith O’Brien and Wednesday’s hearing…

On March 28, “the Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee will have an interesting panel to put questions to. (Among the) big hitters will be Edith O’Brien — the assistant treasurer, who Corzine dropped during congressional testimony back in December.”

Note: At that hearing, Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley was “baffled” by the inability of a panel of MF Global executives to answer basic questions about the firm’s demise. The trio’s “supposed lack of knowledge ... is alarming,” said Grassley. “I want answers and Iowa farmers want answers.”

Grassley then began a series of questions — asking for names of MF Global employees able to provide answers that the executives wouldn’t — that was picked up by other committee members. The reluctant executives provided only several names and eventually pointed to the firm’s treasury department, where O’Brien worked.

Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts loudly wondered how much testimony it would take “before we finally drill down and find someone’s name who knows what the heck is going on?” He suggested MF Global COO BradleyAbelow put together a chart of the firm’s hierarchy and employee names “and we’ll finally get down to the custodian.”

For more on the exchange, see here.

Laurie Ferber, (MF Global) general counsel — currently employed by Freeh — is also expected to testify before the subcommittee.

O’Brien is the one expected to plead the fifth?

“She’s definitely going to. She’s indicated to everyone but Santa Claus that she wants immunity. They’ve all said no and I don’t know why. She hasn’t been questioned by anyone yet.

“The only reason you’d want immunity is if something you did could get you in trouble.

“Congress wouldn’t give her immunity because they don’t want to complicate a criminal investigation. … But if she takes the fifth, it bolsters our case that a crime was committed. Why take the fifth otherwise?

“She’s retained a good defense attorney. … And if she’s done something wrong there’s every reason in the world to.

“Laurie Ferber is in a different situation. She can’t necessarily take the fifth on some things because she’s been working with the trustee office. She could invoke attorney/client privilege, though, so it’ll be an interesting hearing.”

How is (CFTC head Gary) Gensler sitting at the CFTC? Still entrenched?

I think he’s fairly entrenched.

“Down the road, I don’t know if there will be a sacrificial lamb. If so, I’m unsure if it’ll be Gensler. I don’t think you’ll see any regulator’s head roll.

“At the end of the day, this is one of those things where so many will shake their heads and say (the MF Global collapse is due to) ‘a failure of imagination. No one imagined it could be possible.’ That’s a weak excuse but I don’t know that Gensler could have prevented or mitigated it.

“By recusing himself (from the investigation), he’s given himself quite a bit of an out.

“To be honest, from the customer’s perspective, we’re not all that interested in (regulators being called on the carpet). We’re interested in criminal prosecutions of those who may have committed crimes.”