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Notice

Self-Regulatory Organizations; Fixed Income Clearing Corporation; Notice of Filing of Proposed Rule Change To Amend the Government Securities Division and the Mortgage-Backed Securities Division Membership Rules

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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Start Preamble September 16, 2004.

Pursuant to section 19(b)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Act”),[1] notice is hereby given that on January 9, 2004, the Fixed Income Clearing Corporation (“FICC”) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”) and on April 28, 2004, amended the proposed rule change described in items I, II, and III below, which items have been prepared primarily by FICC. The Commission is publishing this notice to solicit comments on the proposed rule change from interested parties.

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I. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Terms of Substance of the Proposed Rule Change

FICC is seeking to amend the membership rules of its Government Securities Division (“GSD”) and its Mortgage-Backed Securities Division (“MBSD”) to (1) eliminate the requirement that the conversion to U.S. dollars be made by the applicant or member prior to submitting financial information to FICC unless such conversion is specifically requested by FICC, (2) eliminate the requirement that FICC make a determination as to the adequacy of an applicant's personnel, physical facilities, books and records, accounting systems, or internal procedures, (3) require that a non-U.S. applicant represent to FICC in writing that it is regulated in a way that is generally comparable to the way in which domestic FICC members are regulated, (4) add a requirement to the GSD's rules that a non-U.S. netting applicant represent in writing that it is in compliance with the financial reporting and responsibility standards of its home country, and (5) eliminate the requirement that GSD comparison-only applicants submit financial information to FICC.

II. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Purpose of, and Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Change

In its filing with the Commission, FICC included statements concerning the purpose of and basis for the proposed rule change and discussed any comments it received on the proposed rule change. The text of these statements may be examined at the places specified in item IV below. FICC has prepared summaries, set forth in sections (A), (B), and (C) below, of the most significant aspects of these statements.[2]

(A) Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement of the Purpose of, and Statutory Basis for, the Proposed Rule Change

1. Amend the Rules of the GSD and MBSD That Require Financial Information Submitted by an Applicant To Be in Dollar Equivalents

When FICC receives financial information from non-U.S. members and applicants, FICC's credit risk staff will perform the conversion to U.S. dollars whenever it is necessary and is comfortable doing so. The credit risk staff performs the conversion as of the date of the financial statements. Therefore, FICC is proposing to eliminate the current requirement that the conversion to U.S. dollars be made by the applicant or member prior to submitting financial information to FICC unless such conversion is specifically requested by FICC.

2. Amend the Operational Capability Requirement Contained in the Rules of the GSD and the MBSD

FICC's current operational capability rules are too broad and impose upon FICC an obligation to make determinations with respect to the operational capability of an applicant or member that FICC staff is not equipped or trained to make.[3] Such determinations are more appropriately left to the applicant or member's designated examining authority. The operational capability aspect that is relevant to FICC and upon which FICC must make a determination is the ability of an applicant or member to send input to FICC and to receive output from FICC on a timely and accurate basis. Therefore, FICC is seeking to eliminate the requirement that it make a determination as to the adequacy of an applicant's personnel, physical facilities, books and records, accounting systems, or internal procedures.

3. Amend the Comparability Requirement of the GSD's Rules for Non-U.S. Members

The GSD rules currently provide that a non-U.S. entity shall be eligible to become a netting member if FICC has determined that the entity is regulated in its home country in a way that is generally comparable to the way in which similar domestic members are regulated. The comparability determination has been difficult to make because there is no objective set of guidelines that FICC can use to confirm the comparability requirement. As a result, comparability determinations have necessarily become judgment calls made by FICC staff using information provided by the applicant.

Because the netting service is a guaranteed service and FICC only accepts regulated entities as members, FICC should focus on making sure that its non-U.S. members (as is the case with its domestic members) are regulated by a financial regulatory authority in their home country in certain key areas as opposed to being concerned with “comparability” of regulation. These key areas are maintenance of relevant books and records, regular inspections and examinations, and minimum financial standards. Therefore, FICC is proposing to amend the comparability requirement to require that the applicant represent to FICC in writing that it is regulated in these key areas.[4] In conjunction with this change, FICC is also proposing to add a requirement to the GSD's rules that a non-U.S. netting applicant represent in writing that it is in compliance with the financial reporting and responsibility standards of its home country.[5]

4. Amend the GSD's Rules That Require Comparison-Only Applicants and Members to Submit the Same Financial Information as Netting Applicants and Members

The GSD's comparison-only service is not a guaranteed service. Comparison-only members do not have minimum financial requirements and are not required to make clearing fund deposits. While the GSD's rules give FICC the ability to require comparison-only members to submit financial information, FICC has not been obtaining this information from comparison-only applicants or members, and FICC believes that the rules should be amended to reflect actual practice. Therefore, FICC is seeking to eliminate the requirement that GSD comparison-only applicants submit financial information to FICC.

In addition to these proposed rule changes, FICC is proposing a technical change to the rules of the MBSD to move language relating to cross-guaranty agreements to a more appropriate place in the rules.

FICC believes that the proposed rule change is consistent with the requirements of section 17A of the Act [6] and the rules and regulations thereunder applicable to FICC because it will remove impediments to the perfection of a national system for the prompt and accurate clearance and settlement of securities transactions and is not designed to permit unfair discrimination in the admission of participants or among participants in the use of FICC by refining FICC's rules and procedures with regard to applicants and members, and in general will protect investors and the public interest.

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(B) Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement on Burden on Competition

FICC does not believe that the proposed rule change will have any impact, or impose any burden, on competition.

(C) Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement on Comments on the Proposed Rule Change Received From Members, Participants or Others

Written comments relating to the proposed rule change have not yet been solicited or received. FICC will notify the Commission of any written comments received by FICC.

III. Date of Effectiveness of the Proposed Rule Change and Timing for Commission Action

Within thirty-five days of the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register or within such longer period (i) as the Commission may designate up to ninety days of such date if it finds such longer period to be appropriate and publishes its reasons for so finding or (ii) as to which the self-regulatory organization consents, the Commission will: (A) By order approve such proposed rule change or (B) Institute proceedings to determine whether the proposed rule change should be disapproved.

IV. Solicitation of Comments

Interested persons are invited to submit written data, views, and arguments concerning the foregoing, including whether the proposed rule change is consistent with the Act. Comments may be submitted by any of the following methods:

Electronic Comments

Paper Comments

  • Send paper comments in triplicate to Jonathan G. Katz, Secretary, Securities and Exchange Commission, 450 Fifth Street, NW., Washington, DC 20549-0609.

All submissions should refer to File Number SR-FICC-2004-01. This file number should be included on the subject line if e-mail is used. To help the Commission process and review your comments more efficiently, please use only one method. The Commission will post all comments on the Commission's Internet Web site (http://www.sec.gov/​rules/​sro.shtml). Copies of the submission, all subsequent amendments, all written statements with respect to the proposed rule change that are filed with the Commission, and all written communications relating to the proposed rule change between the Commission and any person, other than those that may be withheld from the public in accordance with the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 552, will be available for inspection and copying in the Commission's Public Reference Section, 450 Fifth Street, NW., Washington, DC 20549. Copies of such filing also will be available for inspection and copying at the principal office of FICC and on FICC's Web site at http://www.ficc.com. All comments received will be posted without change; the Commission does not edit personal identifying information from submissions. You should submit only information that you wish to make available publicly. All submissions should refer to File Number SR-FICC-2004-01 and should be submitted on or before October 14, 2004.

For the Commission by the Division of Market Regulation, pursuant to delegated authority.[7]

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Margaret H. McFarland,

Deputy Secretary.

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Footnotes

2.  The Commission has modified the text of the summaries prepared by FICC.

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3.  For example, the GSD rules currently require that a determination be made with respect to whether the membership applicant has adequate personnel, physical facilities, and accounting systems, among other things, to satisfactorily handle transactions.

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4.  This approach is currently used by the Emerging Markets Clearing Corporation (“EMCC”).

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[FR Doc. E4-2351 Filed 9-22-04; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8010-01-P