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Notice

Amendment to Prohibited Transaction Exemption 80-26 (PTE 80-26) for Certain Interest Free Loans to Employee Benefit Plans

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCY:

Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration, Department of Labor.

ACTION:

Adoption of amendment to PTE 80-26.

SUMMARY:

This document amends PTE 80-26, a class exemption that permits parties in interest with respect to employee benefit plans to make interest free loans to such plans, provided the conditions of the exemption are met. The amendment affects all employee benefit plans, the participants and beneficiaries of such plans, and parties in interest with respect to those plans engaging in the described transactions.

DATES:

The amendment is effective from September 11, 2001 until January 9, 2002.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Christopher Motta, Office of Exemption Determinations, Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, (202) 693-8544. (This is not a toll-free number); or Charles Jackson, Plan Benefits Security Division, Office of the Solicitor, U.S. Department of Labor, (202) 693-5600. (This is not a toll-free number).

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

On September 28, 2001, notice was published in the Federal Register (66 FR 49703) of the pendency before the Department of a proposed amendment to PTE 80-26 (45 FR 28545, April 29, 1980, as amended at 65 FR 17540, April 3, 2000).[1] PTE 80-26 provides an exemption from the restrictions of section 406(a)(1)(B) and (D) and section 406(b)(2) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA or the Act) and from the taxes imposed by section 4975(a) and (b) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (the Code), by reason of section 4975(c)(1)(B) and (D) of the Code.

The amendment to PTE 80-26 adopted by this notice was proposed by the Department on its own motion pursuant to section 408(a) of ERISA and section 4975(c)(2) of the Code, and in accordance with the procedures set forth in 29 CFR part 2570, subpart B (55 FR 32836, 32847, August 10, 1990).[2]

The notice of pendency gave interested persons an opportunity to comment or to request a hearing on the proposed amendment. No public comments or requests for a hearing were received.

For the sake of convenience, the entire text of PTE 80-26, as amended, has been reprinted with this notice.

Description of the Exemption

Section I of PTE 80-26 permits the lending of money or other extension of credit from a party in interest or disqualified person to an employee benefit plan, and the repayment of such loan or other extension of credit in accordance with its terms or other written modifications thereof, if:

(a) No interest or other fee is charged to the plan, and no discount for payment in cash is relinquished by the plan, in connection with the loan or extension of credit;

(b) The proceeds of the loan or extension of credit are used only—

(1) For the payment of ordinary operating expenses of the plan, including the payment of benefits in accordance with the terms of the plan and periodic premiums under an insurance or annuity contract, or

(2) For a period of no more than three days, for a purpose incidental to the ordinary operation of the plan;

(c) The loan or extension of credit is unsecured; and

(d) The loan or extension of credit is not directly or indirectly made by an employee benefit plan.

On April 3, 2000, PTE 80-26 was amended through the addition of Start Printed Page 9486sections II and III to that exemption (65 FR 17540). Section II of PTE 80-26 allowed, from November 1, 1999 through December 31, 2000, the lending of money or other extension of credit from a party in interest or disqualified person to an employee benefit plan, and the repayment of such loan or other extension of credit in accordance with its terms or written modifications thereof; provided that, among other requirements, the proceeds of the loan or extension of credit are used only for a purpose incidental to the ordinary operation of the plan which arises in connection with the inability of the plan to liquidate, or otherwise access its assets or access data, as a result of a “Y2K problem”. Section III of PTE 80-26, as amended, provides a definition of the term “Y2K problem”.

The amendment to PTE 80-26 granted pursuant to this notice temporarily broadens the availability of PTE 80-26 to include certain interest-free loans to be used for a purpose incidental to the ordinary operations of a plan which arises in connection with difficulties encountered by the plan in liquidating, or otherwise accessing its assets, or accessing its data in a timely manner as a direct or indirect result of the September 11, 2001 disruption to the financial markets. The amendment to PTE 80-26 permits these loans to the extent such loans are repaid no later than January 9, 2002.

General Information

The attention of interested persons is directed to the following:

(1) The fact that a transaction is the subject of an exemption under section 408(a) of ERISA and section 4975(c)(2) of the Code does not relieve a fiduciary, or other party in interest or disqualified person with respect to a plan, from certain other provisions of ERISA and the Code, including any prohibited transaction provisions to which the exemption does not apply and the general fiduciary responsibility provisions of section 404 of ERISA which require, among other things, that a fiduciary discharge his or her duties respecting the plan solely in the interests of the participants and beneficiaries of the plan; nor does it affect the requirement of section 401(a) of the Code that the plan must operate for the exclusive benefit of the employees of the employer maintaining the plan and their beneficiaries;

(2) This exemption does not extend to transactions prohibited under section 406(b)(1) and (3) of the Act or section 4975(c)(1)(E) or (F) of the Code;

(3) In accordance with section 408(a) of ERISA and 4975(c)(2) of the Code, the Department makes the following determinations:

(i) The amendment set forth herein is administratively feasible;

(ii) The amendment set forth herein is in the interests of plans and of their participants and beneficiaries; and

(iii) The amendment set forth herein is protective of the rights of participants and beneficiaries of plans;

(4) The amendment is applicable to a particular transaction only if the transaction satisfies the conditions specified in the exemption; and

(5) The amendment is supplemental to, and not in derogation of, any other provisions of ERISA and the Code, including statutory or administrative exemptions and transitional rules. Furthermore, the fact that a transaction is subject to an administrative or statutory exemption is not dispositive of whether the transaction is in fact a prohibited transaction.

Exemption

Accordingly, PTE 80-26 is amended under the authority of section 408(a) of the Act and section 4975(c)(2) of the Code and in accordance with the procedures set forth in 29 CFR part 2570, subpart B (55 FR 32836, 32847, August 10, 1990), as set forth below:

Section I. General Exemption

Effective January 1, 1975, the restrictions of section 406(a)(1)(B) and (D) and section 406(b)(2) of the Act, and the taxes imposed by section 4975(a) and (b) of the Code, by reason of section 4975(c)(1)(B) and (D) of the Code, shall not apply to the lending of money or other extension of credit from a party in interest or disqualified person to an employee benefit plan, nor to the repayment of such loan or other extension of credit in accordance with its terms or written modifications thereof, if:

(a) No interest or other fee is charged to the plan, and no discount for payment in cash is relinquished by the plan, in connection with the loan or extension of credit;

(b) The proceeds of the loan or extension of credit are used only—

(1) For the payment of ordinary operating expenses of the plan, including the payment of benefits in accordance with the terms of the plan and periodic premiums under an insurance or annuity contract, or

(2) For a period of no more than three business days, for a purpose incidental to the ordinary operation of the plan;

(c) The loan or extension of credit is unsecured; and

(d) The loan or extension of credit is not directly or indirectly made by an employee benefit plan.

Section II: Temporary Exemption

Effective November 1, 1999 through December 31, 2000, the restrictions of section 406(a)(1)(B) and (D) and section 406(b)(2) of the Act, and the taxes imposed by section 4975(a) and (b) of the Code, by reason of section 4975(c)(1)(B) and (D) of the Code, shall not apply to the lending of money or other extension of credit from a party in interest or disqualified person to an employee benefit plan, nor to the repayment of such loan or other extension of credit in accordance with its terms or written modifications thereof, if:

(a) No interest or other fee is charged to the plan, and no discount for payment in cash is relinquished by the plan, in connection with the loan or extension of credit;

(b) The proceeds of the loan or extension of credit are used only for a purpose incidental to the ordinary operation of the plan which arises in connection with the plan's inability to liquidate, or otherwise access its assets or access data as a result of a Y2K problem.

(c) The loan or extension of credit is unsecured;

(d) The loan or extension of credit is not directly or indirectly made by an employee benefit plan; and

(e) The loan or extension of credit begins on or after November 1, 1999 and is repaid or terminated no later than December 31, 2000.

Section III. September 11, 2001 Market Disruption Exemption

Effective September 11, 2001 through January 9, 2002, the restrictions of section 406(a)(1)(B) and (D) and section 406(b)(2) of the Act, and the taxes imposed by section 4975(a) and (b) of the Code, by reason of section 4975(c)(1)(B) and (D) of the Code, shall not apply to the lending of money or other extension of credit from a party in interest or disqualified person to an employee benefit plan, nor to the repayment of such loan or other extension of credit in accordance with its terms or written modifications thereof, if:

(a) No interest or other fee is charged to the plan, and no discount for payment in cash is relinquished by the plan, in connection with the loan or extension of credit;

(b) The proceeds of the loan or extension of credit are used only for a purpose incidental to the ordinary operation of the plan which arises in connection with difficulties encountered by the plan in liquidating, or otherwise accessing its assets, or Start Printed Page 9487accessing its data in a timely manner as a direct or indirect result of the September 11, 2001 disruption;

(c) The loan or extension of credit is unsecured;

(d) The loan or extension of credit is not directly or indirectly made by an employee benefit plan; and

(e) The loan or extension of credit begins on or after September 11, 2001, and is repaid or terminated no later than January 9, 2002.

Section IV. Definitions

(a) For purposes of section II, a Y2K problem is a disruption of computer operations resulting from a computer system's inability to process data because such system recognizes years only by the last two digits, causing a “00” entry to be read as the year “1900” rather than the year “2000”.

(b) For purposes of Section III, the September 11, 2001 disruption is the disruption to the United States financial and securities markets and/or the operation of persons providing administrative services to employee benefit plans, resulting from the acts of terrorism that occurred on September 11, 2001.

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Signed at Washington, DC, this 25th day of February, 2002.

Ivan L. Strasfeld,

Director, Office of Exemption Determinations, Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration, Department of Labor.

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Footnotes

1.  A minor correction was made to the title of the final exemption in a notice published in the Federal Register on May 23, 1980. (45 FR 35040).

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2.  Section 102 of the Reorganization Plan No. 4 of 1978 (5 U.S.C. App. 1 [1996]) generally transferred the authority of the Secretary of the Treasury to issue administrative exemptions under section 4975 of the Code to the Secretary of Labor.

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[FR Doc. 02-4873 Filed 2-28-02; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4510-29-P