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Notice

Self-Regulatory Organizations; Fixed Income Clearing Corporation; Notice of Filing of a Proposed Rule Change To Amend the Rules of the Mortgage-Backed Securities Division To Impose Fines on Members for Violations of Minimum Financial Standards and To Modify the Penalty Assessment Process for Failures of Members To Submit Requisite Financial Reports on a Timely Basis

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Start Preamble February 7, 2005.

Pursuant to Section 19(b)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Act”),[1] notice is hereby given that on June 24, 2004, the Fixed Income Clearing Corporation (“FICC”) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”) and on February 2, 2005, 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.

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

FICC is seeking to amend the rules of its Mortgage-Backed Securities Division (“MBSD”) to impose fines on members for violations of minimum financial standards and to modify the penalty assessment process for failures of members to submit requisite financial reports on a timely basis.

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

The proposed rule change would amend the rules of the MBSD by imposing fines on members for violations of minimum financial standards and by modifying the penalty assessment process for failures of members to submit requisite financial reports on a timely basis.

1. Violations of Minimum Financial Standards

The rules of the MBSD require clearing members to meet and maintain certain minimum financial standards at all times. While the majority of MBSD members consistently satisfy their minimum financial requirements, occasionally members do breach these requirements and create undue risk for FICC and its members.

Currently, the MBSD rules do not impose specific margin consequences for falling out of compliance with minimum financial requirements but allow the Membership and Risk Management Committee in its discretion to impose conditions which can include an increase to the participant's minimum required deposits to the Participants Fund.

Under the proposed rule change, a violation of a minimum financial requirement by an MBSD clearing participant would result in the imposition on such member of a margin premium equal to the greater of (a) 25 percent of the member's unadjusted [3] Participants Fund requirement or (b) $1,000,000, to continue for ninety calendar days after the later to occur of (i) the member's return to compliance with applicable minimum financial standards or (ii) FICC's discovery of the applicable violation.[4] In addition, such violation would result in (1) a report of the violation to the FICC Membership and Risk Management Committee at its next regularly scheduled meeting or sooner if deemed appropriate by FICC and (2) the placement of such member on FICC's “watch list” subjecting it to frequent and thorough monitoring. None of these consequences would preclude FICC from imposing any other margin consequences permitted by the MBSD rules.

2. Failure To Submit Requisite Financial Reports on a Timely Basis

Certain members that are required to provide monthly or quarterly financial data to FICC at times have violated MBSD's membership requirements by not timely providing such financial data. In such instances, management contacts each offending member and follows up with a letter.

Failure to timely receive required information creates risk to FICC and as a result hinders FICC's ability to appropriately assess the financial condition of such members. To encourage timely submission of required financial data, FICC has established a mechanism to fine delinquent participants.[5] FICC is now proposing two additional measures to enforce timely filing of financial information.

First, FICC proposes to subject delinquent participants to a more stringent Participants Fund requirement. Specifically, the proposed rule filing would automatically impose a margin premium equal to the greater of (1) 25 percent of the member's unadjusted Participants Fund requirement or (2) $1,000,000. The margin premium would be applied until appropriate financial data is submitted to FICC and reviewed for compliance purposes. In addition, delinquent members would be precluded from taking back any excess Participants Fund collateral to which they might ordinarily be entitled.

Second, participants that fail to submit requisite financial reports on a timely basis would also automatically be placed on FICC's “watch list” and Start Printed Page 7985subject to frequent and thorough monitoring.

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 assures the safeguarding of securities and funds which are in the custody or control of FICC by encouraging participants to maintain their minimum financial standards and to submit their required financial reports on a timely basis. As a result, FICC's ability to maintain a financially sound participant base should be enhanced.

(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-2004-13. 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/​gov/​gov.docs.jsp?​NS-query. 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-2004-13 and should be submitted on or before March 9, 2005.

Start Signature

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

Margaret H. McFarland,

Deputy Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble

Footnotes

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

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3.  “Unadjusted” means the standard calculation before any additional assessments.

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4.  The required clearing fund deposit premium that will be assessed for violation of applicable minimum financial standards will be effective beginning on the day of the violation but will begin to be assessed on the date FICC becomes aware of the violation.

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5.  Securities Exchange Act Release No. 49947 (June 30, 2004), 69 FR 41316 [File No. SR-FICC-2003-01].

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[FR Doc. E5-647 Filed 2-15-05; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8010-01-P