The Commission is amending the recordkeeping obligations set forth in Commission regulations along with corresponding technical changes to certain provisions regarding retention of oral communications and record retention requirements applicable to swap dealers and major swap participants, respectively. The amendments modernize and make technology neutral the form and manner in which regulatory records must be kept, as well as rationalize the rule text for ease of understanding for those persons required to keep records pursuant to the Commodity Exchange Act and regulations promulgated by the Commission thereunder. The amendments do not alter any existing requirements regarding the types of regulatory records to be inspected, produced, and maintained set forth in other Commission regulations.
The global compliance deadline for implementation of variation margin requirements for uncleared swap transactions is March 1, 2017. Unless an exception is available, the rules generally require swap dealers to collect and post variation margin with no credit threshold. The rules require the parties to enter into new or amended credit support documentation, limit the types of collateral that may be posted, prescribe minimum transfer amounts and effectively require new operational processes to be put in place. Moreover, different rules can apply depending on who the swap dealer’s regulator is and/or the jurisdiction of the counterparty. Not surprisingly, many market participants, particularly smaller financial firms, buy-side firms, asset managers, pension funds and insurance companies are unlikely to be compliant by the March 1 deadline. This has caused immense consternation among buy-side market participants who feared that they would be unable to trade until they came into compliance.
On February 23, 2017, following requests from numerous trade associations, U.S. banking regulators and IOSCO, the umbrella body for global securities regulators, issued statements encouraging leniency in enforcement of the documentation requirements. More specifically, the Federal Reserve provided guidance to examiners of CFTC-registered swap dealers that, except for transactions with financial end users that present “significant exposures” (which must still comply with the March 1 deadline), examiners should focus on swap dealer’s good faith efforts to comply as soon as possible but no later than September 1, 2017. Similarly, though less explicitly, IOSCO issued a statement that, while it expects all parties to make every effort to meet the March 1 deadline, it believes that the global regulators should take “appropriate measures … to ensure fair and orderly markets during the introduction and application of such variation margin requirements.” These statements follow the release by the CFTC on February 13, 2017 of a time-limited no-action letter delaying compliance by swap dealers under their jurisdiction until September 1, 2017.
There are a number of paths to compliance for buy-side firms, including negotiating bilateral agreements or amendments directly with swap dealers or using an industry-wide questionnaire-style protocol developed by ISDA and available through their ISDA Amend automated service run jointly with Markit.
If you have questions regarding the current deadlines or need assistance with compliance, please contact our derivatives partner, Daniel Budofsky (firstname.lastname@example.org), or your regular Pillsbury contact.
The CFTC’s recent enforcement against Bitfinex’s financed trading activities demonstrates the Commission’s increasing interest in virtual currency and digital assets.
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is further expanding its oversight of virtual currency exchanges and digital assets in general. On June 2, 2016, Bitfinex (a Hong Kong-based bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange) settled with the CFTC following an investigation into its trading activities. The CFTC charged that the exchange offered illegal off-exchange financed retail commodity transactions, and that Bitfinex had failed to register as a Futures Commission Merchant (FCM) as required by law. As a result, Bitfinex will pay $75,000 in civil penalties.
This action is more evidence of the CFTC’s interest in not only bitcoins, but any digital asset that can be considered a commodity. Transactions in decentralized digital tokens (such as Ether, DAO Tokens, Safecoins, Factoids, and Bitcrystals) are becoming more common, and so is regulatory interest.
The CFTC has approved a final rule that removes reporting and recordkeeping requirements for trade option counterparties that are neither swap dealers nor major swap participants (Non-SD/MSPs). The removal of the reporting requirements also applies to commercial end users transacting in trade options connected to their business.
Regarding the reporting requirement, the annual notice reporting requirement for otherwise unreported trade options under CFTC regulation 32.3(b) has been eliminated from Form TO. Additionally, the position limit requirements referenced in regulation 32.3(c) have been eliminated.
Regarding the recordkeeping requirement, the swap-related recordkeeping requirements for Non-SD/MSPs stemming from their trade option activities have been eliminated. However, Non-SD/MSPs that transact in trade options with swap dealers or major swap participants must obtain a legal entity identifier and provide it to their swap dealer or major swap participant counterparties.
Once the Trade Options Final Rule becomes effective, upon publication of the final rule in the Federal Register, CFTC No-Action Letter 13-08 which provides conditional relief for trade option counterparties that are Non-SD/MSPs from certain swap related recordkeeping and reporting requirements will be withdrawn.
The full CFTC release can be read here.
At the end of this month, the annual updating amendments for investment advisers’ Form ADV will be due. The following are some of the important annual compliance obligations investment advisers either registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) or with a particular state (“Investment Adviser”) and commodity pool operators (“CPOs”) or commodity trading advisors (“CTAs”) registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”) should be aware of.
This summary consists of the following segments: (i) List of Annual Compliance Deadlines; (ii) 2016 Enforcement Priorities In The Alternative Space; (iii) New Developments; and (iv) Continuing Compliance Areas.
See the deadlines below and in red
On November 3, 2015, an Illinois federal jury convicted Michael Coscia, a high-frequency commodities trader, of six counts of commodities fraud and six counts of spoofing—entering a buy or sell order with the intent to cancel before the order’s execution.1 Coscia’s conviction was the first under the criminal anti-spoofing provisions added to the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. In the press release touting its victory, the prosecution announced: “The jury’s verdict exemplifies the reason we created the Securities and Commodities Fraud Section in Chicago, which will continue to criminally prosecute these types of violations.” High-frequency traders should take note that the conviction on all six counts of spoofing charged in Coscia’s case may embolden prosecutors across the nation to pursue other spoofing cases with vigor. Given the real possibility of a felony indictment and conviction for spoofing—the latter of which exposes a defendant to imprisonment for up to ten years and significant monetary fines—high-frequency traders should carefully evaluate their strategies and conduct.2
On November 18, 2015, the staff from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (“CFTC”) Division of Swap Dealer and Intermediary Oversight issued a swap dealer de minimis exception preliminary report (“Preliminary Report”).
The Preliminary Report was issued pursuant to the SEC and CFTC joint regulation defining the term “swap dealer” and providing for a de minimis exception to the swap dealer definition. Under the regulation, a person shall not be deemed to be a swap dealer unless its swap dealing activity exceeds an aggregate gross notional amount threshold of $3 billion (measured over the prior 12-month period), subject to a phase-in period during which the gross notional amount threshold is set at $8 billion. Under the terms of the regulation, the phase-in period will terminate on December 31, 2017, and the de minimis threshold will fall to $3 billion, unless the CFTC sets a different termination date for the phase-in period or modifies the de minimis exception.
The Preliminary Report discusses:
- Relevant statutory and regulatory provisions defining the term “swap dealer” and implementing the de minimis exception.
- Data considered in preparing the Preliminary Report.
- Policies underlying swap dealer registration and regulation and the de minimis exception that form the basis for evaluating the swap market data.
- Data in light of alternative approaches to a de minimis exception.
Comments on the Preliminary Report must be submitted on or before January 19, 2016 and may be submitted electronically via the CFTC’s Comment Online Process. The staff will complete and publish for public comment a final report after considering the comments it receives on the Preliminary Report.
Certain Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) exemptions require annual affirmation, including CPO exemptions under Regulation 4.5, 4.13(a)(1), 4.13(a)(2), 4.13(a)(3), and 4.13(a)(5) and CTA exemptions under Regulation 4.14(a)(8). If you rely on one of these exemptions, you must affirm the annual claim of exemption by March 2, 2015 using the NFA Exemptions website. http://www.nfa.futures.org/NFA-electronic-filings/exemptions.html
Annual Compliance Obligations—What You Need To Know
As the new year is upon us, there are some important annual compliance obligations Investment Advisers either registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) or with a particular state (“Investment Adviser”) and Commodity Pool Operators (“CPOs”) or Commodity Trading Advisors (“CTAs”) registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”) should be aware of.
See upcoming deadlines below and in red throughout this document.
The following is a summary of the primary annual or periodic compliance-related obligations that may apply to Investment Advisers, CPOs and CTAs (collectively, “Managers”). The summary is not intended to be a comprehensive review of an Investment Adviser’s securities, tax, partnership, corporate or other annual requirements, nor an exhaustive list of all of the obligations of an Investment Adviser under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended (the “Advisers Act”) or applicable state law. Although many of the obligations set forth below apply only to SEC-registered Investment Advisers, state-registered Investment Advisers may be subject to similar and/or additional obligations depending on the state in which they are registered. State-registered Investment Advisers should contact us for additional information regarding their specific obligations under state law.
List of annual compliance deadlines:
|State registered advisers pay IARD fee||November-December (of 2014)|
|Form 13F (for 12/31/14 quarter-end)||February 17, 2015*|
|Form 13H annual filing||February 17, 2015|
|Schedule 13G annual amendment||February 17, 2015|
|Registered CTA Form PR (for December 31, 2014 year-end)||February 17, 2015|
|TIC Form SLT||January 23, 2015 (for December 2014)|
|TIC Form SHCA||March 6, 2015|
|TIC B Forms||Monthly report (December 2014) – by January 15, 2014Quarterly report (December 31, 2014) – by January 20, 2014|
|Affirm CPO exemption||March 2, 2015|
|Registered Large CPO Form CPO-PQR December 31 quarter-end report||March 2, 2015|
|Registered CPOs filing Form PF in lieu of Form CPO-PQR December 31 quarter-end report||March 31, 2015|
|Registered Mid-Size and Small CPO Form CPO-PQR year-end report||March 31, 2015|
|SEC registered advisers and ERAs pay IARD fee||Before submission of Form ADV annual amendment by March 31, 2015|
|Annual ADV update||March 31, 2015|
|Delivery of Brochure||April 30, 2015|
|Delivery of audited financial statements (for December 31, 2014 year-end)||April 30, 2015|
|California Finance Lender License annual report (for December 31, 2014 year- end)||March 15, 2015|
|Form PF filers pay IARD fee||Before submission of Form PF|
|Form PF for large liquidity fund advisers (for December 31, 2014 quarter end)||January 15, 2015|
|Form PF for large hedge fund advisers (for December 31, 2014 quarter end)||March 2, 2015|
|Form PF for smaller private fund advisers and large private equity fund advisers (for December 31, 2014 fiscal year-end)||April 30, 2015|
|FBAR Form FinCEN Report 114 (for persons meeting the filing threshold in 2014 and those persons whose filing due date for reporting was previously extended by Notices 2013-1, 2012-2, 2012-1, 2011-2 and 2011-1)||June 30, 2015|
|FATCA information reports filing for 2014 by participating FFIs||March 31, 2015|
|Form D annual amendment||One year anniversary from last amendment filing.|
* Reflects an extended due date under Exchange Act Rule 0-3. If the due date of filing falls on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday, a report is considered timely filed if it is filed on the first business day following the due date.
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced that on December 16, 2014, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois entered a Consent Order for permanent injunction against AlphaMetrix, LLC (AlphaMetrix), a Chicago-based Commodity Pool Operator (CPO) and Commodity Trading Advisor (CTA), and its parent company AlphaMetrix Group, LLC (AlphaMetrix Group). The Order requires AlphaMetrix to pay restitution of $2.8 million and a civil monetary penalty of $2.8 million and requires AlphaMetrix Group to pay disgorgement of $2.8 million. The Order also prohibits AlphaMetrix from further violating anti-fraud provisions of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA), as charged.
The Order stems from CFTC charges that AlphaMetrix failed to pay at least $2.8 million in rebates owed to some of its commodity pool participants by investing the rebate funds in the pools and instead transferred the funds to its parent company, which had no entitlement to the funds. Nevertheless, AlphaMetrix sent these pool participants account statements that included the rebate funds as if they had been reinvested in the pools, even though they were not (see CFTC Press Release 6767-13, November 6, 2013).
A civil action filed by the court-appointed receiver remains pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. In that action, the receiver seeks to recover funds from former officers of AlphaMetrix and AlphaMetrix Group.
The CFTC cautions victims that restitution orders may not result in the recovery of money lost because the wrongdoers may not have sufficient funds or assets.