Upon Written Request, Copies Available From: Securities and Exchange Commission, Office of FOIA Services, 100 F Street NE., Washington, DC 20549-2736.
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 “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.
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.
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.
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” 
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,
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 form 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,
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 75,497 respondents under rule 17j-1, of which 5,497 are rule 17j-1 organizations and 70,000 are Access Persons. In the aggregate, these respondents make approximately 108,305 responses annually. We estimate that the total annual burden of complying with the information collection requirements in rule 17j-1 is approximately 401,407 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 placement, 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 $4,335,000, 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.
Compliance with the collection of information requirements of the rule is mandatory and is necessary to comply with the requirements of the rule in general. 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. Rule 17j-1 requires that records be maintained for at least five years in an easily accessible place.
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 Pamela Dyson, Director/Chief Information Officer, Securities and Exchange Commission, C/O Remi Pavlik-Simon, 100 F Street NE., Washington, DC 20549; or send an email to: PRA_Mailbox@sec.gov.
Dated: August 26, 2015.
Robert W. Errett,
[FR Doc. 2015-21555 Filed 8-31-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 8011-01-P