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Notice

Proposed Collection; Comment Request

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Upon Written Request, Copies Available From: Securities and Exchange Commission, Office of Filings and Information Services, Washington, DC 20549.

Extension: Rule 17j-1; SEC File No. 270-239; OMB Control No. 3235-0224.

Notice is hereby given that, pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “Commission”) is soliciting comments on the collection of information summarized below. The Commission plans to submit this existing collection of information to the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) for extension and approval.

Rule 17j-1 under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C. 80a) (the “Investment Company Act”), which the Commission adopted in 1980 [1] and amended in 1999,[2] implements section 17(j) of the Act. Section 17(j) makes it unlawful for persons affiliated with a registered investment company or with the investment company's investment adviser or principal underwriter (each, a “17j-1 organization”), in connection with the purchase or sale of securities held or to be acquired by the investment company, to engage in any fraudulent, deceptive, or manipulative act or practice in contravention of the Commission's rules and regulations. Section 17(j) authorizes the Commission to promulgate rules requiring the adoption of code of ethics.

In order to implement section 17(j), rule 17j-1 imposes certain requirements on 17j-1 organizations and “Access Persons” [3] of those organizations. The rule prohibits fraudulent, deceptive or manipulative acts by persons affiliated with a rule 17j-1 organization in connection with their personal securities transactions in securities held or to be acquired by the fund. The rule requires each 17j-1 organization [4] to: (i) Adopt a written code of ethics, (ii) submit the code and any material changes to the code, along with a certification that it has adopted procedures reasonably necessary to prevent Access Persons from violating the code of ethics, to the fund board for approval, (iii) use reasonable diligence and institute procedures reasonably necessary to prevent violations of the code, (iv) submit a written report at least annually to the fund describing any issues arising under the code and procedures and certifying that the 17j-1 entity has adopted procedures reasonably necessary to prevent Access Persons from violating the code, (v) identify Access Persons and notify them of their reporting obligations, and (vi) maintain and make available to the Commission for review certain records related to the code of ethics and transaction reporting by Access Persons.

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The rule requires each Access Person of a fund (other than a money market fund or a fund that does not invest in Covered Securities) and of an investment adviser or principal underwriter of the fund, who is not subject to an exception,[5] to file: (i) Within 10 days of becoming an Access Person, a dated initial holdings report that sets forth certain information with respect to the access person's securities and accounts, (ii) within 10 days of the end of each calendar quarter, a dated quarterly transaction report providing certain information with respect to any securities transactions during the quarter and any account established by the Access Person in which any securities were held during the quarter, and (iii) dated annual holding reports providing information with respect to each covered security the Access Person beneficially owns and accounts in which securities are held for his or her benefit. In addition, rule 17j-1 requires investment personnel of a fund or its investment adviser, before acquiring beneficial ownership in securities through an initial public offering (IPO) or in a private placement, to obtain approval from the fund or the fund's investment adviser.

The requirements that the management of a rule 17j-1 organization provide the fund's board with new and amended codes of ethics and an annual issues and certification report are intended to enhance board oversight of personal investment policies applicable to the fund and the personal investment activities of Access Persons. The requirements that Access Persons provide initial holdings reports, quarterly transaction reports, and annual holdings reports and request approval for purchases of securities through IPOs and private placements are intended to help fund compliance personnel and the Commission's examinations staff monitor potential conflicts of interest and detect potentially abusive activities. The requirement that each rule 17j-1 organization maintain certain records is intended to assist the organization and the Commission's examinations staff in determining if there have been violations of rule 17j-1.

The Commission estimates that each year a total of 73,976 Access Persons and 17j-1 organizations are subject to the rule's reporting requirements. Respondents provide approximately 102,230 responses each year. The total annual burden of the rule's paperwork requirements is estimated to be approximately 243,884 hours. Of the total, 38,722 hours are associated with reporting requirements for access persons, and the remaining 205,162 hours are associated with the requirements applicable to rule 17j-1 entities.

These burden hour estimates are based upon the Commission staff's experience and discussions with the fund industry. The estimates of average burden hours are made solely for the purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act. These estimates are not derived from a comprehensive or even a representative survey or study of the costs of Commission rules.

Written comments are invited on: (a) Whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission, including whether the information will have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the Commission's estimate of the burden of the collections of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burdens of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Consideration will be given to comments and suggestions submitted in writing within 60 days of this publication.

Please direct your written comments to R. Corey Booth, Director/Chief Information Officer, Office of Information Technology, Securities and Exchange Commission, 450 5th Street, NW., Washington, DC 20549.

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Dated: April 26, 2004.

Jill M. Peterson,

Assistant Secretary.

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Footnotes

1.  Prevention of Certain Unlawful Activities With Respect to Registered Investment Companies, Investment Company Act Release No. 11421 (Oct. 31, 1980) (45 FR 73915 (Nov. 7, 1980)).

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2.  Personal Investment Activities of Investment Company Personnel, Investment Company Act Release No. 23958 (Aug. 20, 1999) (64 FR 46821-01 (Aug. 27, 1999)).

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3.  Rule 17j-1(a)(1) defines an “access person” as “any director, officer, general partner, or advisory person of a fund or of a fund's investment adviser” and as “any director, officer, or general partner of a principal underwriter who, in the ordinary course of business, makes, participates in or obtains information regarding, the purchase or sale of Covered Securities by the Fund for which the principal underwriter acts, or whose functions or duties in the ordinary course of business relate to the making of any recommendation to the Fund regarding the purchase or sale of Covered Securities.”

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4.  Money market funds and funds that do not invest in “Covered Securities,” as defined in paragraph (a)(4) of the rule, are excepted.

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5.  Rule 17j-1(d)(2) exempts Access Persons from reporting in five instances in which reporting would be duplicative or would not serve the purposes of the rule.

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[FR Doc. 04-9975 Filed 4-30-04; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8010-01-P