Commodity Futures Trading Commission chairman Gary Gensler said Monday he recused himself from the regulator’s probe of the failure of derivatives player MF Global, because “I didn't want my participation to in any way be a distraction.''

Gensler on Friday recused himself from the probe of the once little-known investment bank and derivatives trading firm. Gensler was a partner at Goldman Sachs when its chief executive was MF Global chief executive Jon Corzine. Gensler also has been a supporter of his former professional colleague’s political career, which included periods as a U.S. Senator from New Jersey and as the state’s governor.

MF Global filed for bankruptcy on October 31, after bad bets on European soveraign debt. By week’s end, Corzine had resigned – and retained a criminal layer.

“I chose to not participate in these potential or possible enforcement matters,’’ said Gensler at the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association’s annual meeting. “We have excellent career staff” that can handle the CFTC’s probe, he said.

Among other matters, MF Global may not have segregated its customers funds from its own operational capital. Gensler said Monday that segregation was a bedrock principle of financial markets.

“Segregation of funds is the core foundation of customer protection,’’ said Gensler.

"You're in the business of managing risk,’’ Gensler told the assemblage of securities professionals, “and there is a freedom to fail,’' which MF Global took advantage of.

No taxpayer money went into bailing out MF Global, he noted, unlike occurred with Goldman Sachs and other large financial firms in the late 2008 global credit crisis.

Here is the text of Gensler’s prepared remarks.

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