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Proposed Collection; Comment Request

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Upon Written Request, Copies Available From: Securities and Exchange Commission, Office of Investor Education and Advocacy, Washington, DC 20549-0213.


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. 350l-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 for extension and approval.

Conflicts of interest between investment company personnel (such as portfolio managers) and their funds can arise when these persons buy and sell securities for their own accounts (“personal investment activities”). These conflicts arise because fund personnel have the opportunity to profit from information about fund transactions, often to the detriment of fund investors. Beginning in the early 1960s, Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”) sought to devise a regulatory scheme to effectively address these potential conflicts. These efforts culminated in the addition of section 17(j) to the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the Start Printed Page 61721“Investment Company Act”) (15 U.S.C. 80a-17(j)) in 1970 and the adoption by the Commission of rule 17j-1 (17 CFR 270.17j-1) in 1980.[1] The Commission proposed amendments to rule 17j-1 in 1995 in response to recommendations made in the first detailed study of fund policies concerning personal investment activities by the Commission's Division of Investment Management since rule 17j-1 was adopted. Amendments to rule 17j-1, which were adopted in 1999, enhanced fund oversight of personal investment activities and the board's role in carrying out that oversight.[2] Additional amendments to rule 17j-1 were made in 2004, conforming rule 17j-1 to rule 204A-1 under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C. 80b), avoiding duplicative reporting, and modifying certain definitions and time restrictions.[3]

Section 17(j) makes it unlawful for persons affiliated with a registered investment company (“fund”) or with the fund'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) also authorizes the Commission to promulgate rules requiring 17j-1 organizations to adopt codes of ethics.

In order to implement section 17(j), rule 17j-1 imposes certain requirements on 17j-1 organizations and “Access Persons” [4] of those organizations. The rule prohibits fraudulent, deceptive or manipulative acts by persons affiliated with a 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, unless it is a money market fund or a fund that does not invest in Covered Securities,[5] to: (i) Adopt a written codes 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 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.

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,[6] 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) dated quarterly transaction reports within 30 days of the end of each calendar quarter 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.

We estimate that annually there are approximately 75,757 respondents under rule 17j-1, of which 5,757 are rule 17j-1 organizations and 70,000 are Access Persons. In the aggregate, these respondents make approximately 105,125 responses annually. We estimate that the total annual burden of complying with the information collection requirements in rule 17j-1 is approximately 292,740 hours. This hour burden represents time spent by Access Persons that must file initial and annual holdings reports and quarterly transaction reports, investment personnel that must obtain approval before acquiring beneficial ownership in any securities through an IPO or private Start Printed Page 61722placement, and the responsibilities of Rule 17j-1 organizations arising from information collection requirements under rule 17j-1. These include notifying Access Persons of their reporting obligations, preparing an annual rule 17j-1 report and certification for the board, documenting their approval or rejection of IPO and private placement requests, maintaining annual rule 17j-1 records, maintaining electronic reporting and recordkeeping systems, amending their codes of ethics as necessary, and, for new fund complexes, adopting a code of ethics.

We estimate that there is an annual cost burden of approximately $5,000 per fund complex, for a total of $3,275,000, associated with complying with the information collection requirements in rule 17j-1. This represents the costs of purchasing and maintaining computers and software to assist funds in carrying out rule 17j-1 recordkeeping.

These burden hour and cost estimates are based upon the Commission staff's experience and discussions with the fund industry. The estimates of average burden hours and costs 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.

An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid control number.

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 Charles Boucher, Director/CIO, Securities and Exchange Commission, C/O Shirley Martinson, 6432 General Green Way, Alexandria, VA 22312; or send an e-mail to:

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November 19, 2009.

Florence E. Harmon,

Deputy Secretary.

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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.  Investment Adviser Codes of Ethics, Investment Advisers Act Release No. 2256 (Jul. 2, 2004) (66 FR 41696 (Jul. 9, 2004)).

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4.  Rule 17j-1(a)(1) defines an “access person” as “Any advisory person of a Fund or of a Fund's investment adviser. If an investment adviser's primary business is advising Funds or other advisory clients, all of the investment adviser's directors, officers, and general partners are presumed to be Access Persons of any Fund advised by the investment adviser. All of a Fund's directors, officers, and general partners are presumed to be Access Persons of the Fund.” The definition of Access Person also includes “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.” Rule 17j-1(a)(1).

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5.  A “Covered Security” is any security that falls within the definition in section 2(a)(36) of the Act, except for direct obligations of the U.S. Government, bankers' acceptances, bank certificates of deposit, commercial paper and high quality short-term debt instruments, including repurchase agreements, and shares issued by open-end funds. Rule 17j-1(a)(4).

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6.  Rule 17j-1(d)(2) contains the following exceptions: (i) An Access Person need not file a report for transactions effected for, and securities held in, any account over which the Access Person does not have control; (ii) an independent director of the fund, who would otherwise not need to report and who does not have information with respect to the fund's transactions in a particular security, does not have to file an initial holdings report or a quarterly transaction report; (iii) an Access Person of a principal underwriter of the fund does not have to file reports if the principal underwriter is not affiliated with the fund (unless the fund is a unit investment trust) or any investment adviser of the fund and the principal underwriter of the fund does not have any officer, director, or general partner who serves in one of those capacities for the fund or any investment adviser of the fund; (iv) an Access Person to an investment adviser need not make quarterly reports if the report would duplicate information provided under the reporting provisions of the Investment Adviser's Act; and (v) an Access Person need not make quarterly transaction reports if the information provided in the report would duplicate information received by the 17j-1 organization in the form of broker trade confirmations or account statements or information otherwise in the records of the 17j-1 organization.

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[FR Doc. E9-28226 Filed 11-24-09; 8:45 am]