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Self-Regulatory Organizations; Investors Exchange LLC; Notice of Filing and Order Granting Accelerated Approval of a Proposed Rule Change To Add the Consolidated Audit Trail Industry Member Compliance Rules to the List of Minor Rule Violations

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Start Preamble June 25, 2020.

Pursuant to Section 19(b)(1) [1] of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Act”) [2] and Rule 19b-4 thereunder,[3] notice is hereby given that, on June 23, 2020, the Investors Exchange LLC (“IEX” or the “Exchange”) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “Commission”) the proposed rule change as described in Items I and II below, which Items have been prepared by the self-regulatory organization. The Commission is publishing this notice to solicit comments on the proposed rule change from interested persons and approving the proposal on an accelerated basis.

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

Pursuant to the provisions of Section 19(b)(1) under the Act,[4] and Rule 19b-Start Printed Page 396504 thereunder,[5] IEX proposes to add the Consolidated Audit Trail (“CAT”) industry member compliance rules to the list of minor rule violations in Rule 9.218. The Exchange requests accelerated approval and effectiveness of this filing.

The text of the proposed rule change is available at the Exchange's website at www.iextrading.com, at the principal office of the Exchange, and at the Commission's Public Reference Room.

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

In its filing with the Commission, the self-regulatory organization 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. The self-regulatory organization has prepared summaries, set forth in sections A, B, and C below, of the most significant aspects of such statements.

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

1. Purpose

The Exchange proposes to add IEX's CAT industry member compliance rules (the “CAT Compliance Rules”) to the list of minor rule violations in Rule 9.218.[6] This proposal is based upon the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) filing to amend FINRA Rule 9217 in order to add FINRA's corresponding CAT Compliance Rules to FINRA's list of rules that are eligible for minor rule violation plan treatment.[7]

Proposed Rule Change

The Exchange adopted the CAT Compliance Rules in the Rule Series 11.600 in order to implement the National Market System Plan Governing the Consolidated Audit Trail (the “CAT NMS Plan” or “Plan”).[8] The CAT NMS Plan was filed by the Plan Participants to comply with Rule 613 of Regulation NMS under the Exchange Act,[9] and each Plan Participant accordingly has adopted the same compliance rules in the Exchange's Rule Series 11.600. The common CAT Compliance Rules adopted by each Plan Participant are designed to require industry members to comply with the provisions of the CAT NMS Plan, which broadly calls for industry members to record and report timely and accurately customer, order, and trade information relating to activity in NMS Securities and OTC Equity Securities.

Rule 9.218 sets forth the list of rules under which a Member [10] or associated person may be subject to a fine under Rule 9.216(b). Rule 9.216(b) permits the Exchange to impose a fine of up to $2,500 on any Member or associated person for a minor violation of an eligible rule. The Exchange proposes to amend Rule 9.218 to add the CAT Compliance Rules in the Rule Series 11.600 to the list of rules in Rule 9.218 eligible for disposition pursuant to a minor fine under Rule 9.216(b).[11]

IEX is coordinating with FINRA and other Plan Participants to promote harmonized and consistent enforcement of all the Plan Participants' CAT Compliance Rules. The Commission recently approved a Rule 17d-2 Plan under which the regulation of CAT Compliance Rules will be allocated among Plan Participants to reduce regulatory duplication for industry members that are members of more than one Participant (“common members”).[12] Under the Rule 17d-2 Plan, the regulation of CAT Compliance Rules with respect to common members that are members of FINRA is allocated to FINRA. Similarly, under the Rule 17d-2 Plan, responsibility for common members of multiple other Plan Participants that are not members of FINRA will be allocated among those other Plan Participants, including to the Exchange. For those non-common members who are allocated to IEX pursuant to the Rule 17d-2 Plan, the Exchange and FINRA entered into a Regulatory Services Agreement (“RSA”) pursuant to which FINRA will conduct surveillance, investigation, examination, and enforcement activity in connection with the CAT Compliance Rules on the Exchange's behalf. IEX understands that the other exchanges entered into similar RSAs with FINRA.

FINRA, in connection with its amendment to FINRA Rule 9217 to make FINRA's CAT Compliance Rules MRVP eligible, represented that it will apply MRVP fines for CAT Compliance Rules in the same manner that FINRA has for its similar existing audit trail-related rules.[13] Accordingly, in order to promote regulatory consistency, the Exchange, and FINRA acting on behalf of the Exchange, plan to do the same. Specifically, application of a MRVP fine with respect to CAT Compliance Rules will be guided by the same factors that FINRA referenced in its filing. However, more formal disciplinary proceedings may be warranted instead of minor rule dispositions in certain circumstances such as where violations prevent regulatory users of the CAT from performing their regulatory functions. Where minor rule dispositions are appropriate, the following factors help guide the determination of fine amounts:

  • Total number of reports that are not submitted or submitted late;
  • The timeframe over which the violations occur;
  • Whether violations are batched;
  • Whether the violations are the result of the actions of one individual or the result of faulty systems or procedures;
  • Whether the firm has taken remedial measures to correct the violations;
  • Prior minor rule violations within the past 24 months;
  • Collateral effects that the failure has on customers; and
  • Collateral effects that the failure has on the Exchange's ability to perform its regulatory function.[14]

Upon effectiveness of this rule change, the Exchange will publish a regulatory bulletin notifying its Start Printed Page 39651Members of the rule change and the specific factors that will be considered in connection with assessing minor rule fines described above.

For the foregoing reasons, the Exchange believes that the proposed rule change will result in a coordinated, harmonized approach to CAT compliance rule enforcement across Plan Participants that will be consistent with the approach FINRA has taken with the CAT rules.

2. Statutory Basis

The proposed rule change is consistent with Section 6(b) of the Act,[15] in general, and furthers the objectives of Section 6(b)(5),[16] in particular, because it is designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices, to promote just and equitable principles of trade, to foster cooperation and coordination with persons engaged in facilitating transactions in securities, to remove impediments to, and perfect the mechanism of, a free and open market and a national market system and, in general, to protect investors and the public interest.

Minor rule fines provide a meaningful sanction for minor or technical violations of rules when the conduct at issue does not warrant stronger, immediately reportable disciplinary sanctions. The inclusion of a rule in the Exchange's MRVP does not minimize the importance of compliance with the rule, nor does it preclude the Exchange from choosing to pursue violations of eligible rules through an AWC if the nature of the violations or prior disciplinary history warrants more significant sanctions. Rather, the Exchange believes that the proposed rule change will strengthen the Exchange's ability to carry out its oversight and enforcement responsibilities in cases where full disciplinary proceedings are unwarranted in view of the minor nature of the particular violation. Thus, the option to impose a minor rule sanction gives the Exchange additional flexibility to administer its enforcement program in the most effective and efficient manner while still fully meeting the Exchange's remedial objectives in addressing violative conduct. Specifically, the proposed rule change is designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices because it will provide the Exchange the ability to issue a minor rule fine for violations of the CAT Compliance Rules in the Rule Series 11.600 where a more formal disciplinary action may not be warranted or appropriate consistent with the approach of other Plan Participants for the same conduct, and thereby promote regulatory consistency across self-regulatory organizations

The Exchange further believes that the proposed changes to Rule 9.218 are consistent with Section 6(b)(6) of the Act,[17] which provides that members and persons associated with members shall be appropriately disciplined for violation of the provisions of the rules of the exchange, by expulsion, suspension, limitation of activities, functions, and operations, fine, censure, being suspended or barred from being associated with a member, or any other fitting sanction. As noted, the proposed rule change would provide the Exchange ability to sanction minor or technical violations of the Rule Series 11.600 pursuant to the Exchange's rules.

Finally, the Exchange also believes that the proposed changes are designed to provide a fair procedure for the disciplining of members and persons associated with members, consistent with Sections 6(b)(7) and 6(d) of the Act.[18] Rule 9.216 does not preclude a Member or associated person from contesting an alleged violation and receiving a hearing on the matter with the same procedural rights through a litigated disciplinary proceeding.

B. Self-Regulatory Organization's Statement on Burden on Competition

IEX does not believe that the proposed rule change will result in any burden on competition that is not necessary or appropriate in furtherance of the purposes of the Act. The proposed rule change is not intended to address competitive issues but rather is concerned solely with making the CAT Compliance Rules in the Rule Series 11.600 eligible for disposition pursuant to a MRVP, thereby strengthening the Exchange's ability to carry out its oversight and enforcement functions and deter potential violative conduct.

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

Written comments were neither solicited nor received.

III. 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 Secretary, Securities and Exchange Commission, 100 F Street NE, Washington, DC 20549-1090.

All submissions should refer to File Number SR-IEX-2020-09. This file number should be included on the subject line if email 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 website (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 website viewing and printing in the Commission's Public Reference Room, 100 F Street NE, Washington, DC 20549 on official business days between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Copies of the filing also will be available for inspection and copying at the principal office of the Exchange. All comments received will be posted without change. Persons submitting comments are cautioned that we do not redact or edit personal identifying information from comment submissions. You should submit only information that you wish to make available publicly. All submissions should refer to File Number SR-IEX-2020-09 and should be submitted on or before July 22, 2020.

IV. Commission's Findings and Order Granting Accelerated Approval of Proposed Rule Change

The Commission finds that the proposed rule change is consistent with the requirements of the Act and the rules and regulations thereunder applicable to a national securities Start Printed Page 39652exchange.[19] In particular, the Commission finds that the proposed rule change is consistent with Section 6(b)(5) of the Act,[20] which requires that the rules of an exchange be designed to promote just and equitable principles of trade, to remove impediments and to perfect the mechanism of a free and open market and a national market system, and, in general, to protect investors and the public interest. The Commission also believes that the proposal is consistent with Sections 6(b)(1) and 6(b)(6) of the Act [21] which require that the rules of an exchange enforce compliance with, and provide appropriate discipline for, violations of Commission and Exchange rules. Finally, the Commission finds that the proposal is consistent with the public interest, the protection of investors, or otherwise in furtherance of the purposes of the Act, as required by Rule 19d-1(c)(2) under the Act,[22] which governs minor rule violation plans.

As stated above, the Exchange proposes to add the CAT Compliance Rules to the list of minor rule violations in Rule 9.218 to be consistent with the approach FINRA has taken for minor violations of its corresponding CAT Compliance Rules.[23] The Commission has already approved FINRA's treatment of CAT Compliance Rules violations when it approved the addition of CAT Compliance Rules to FINRA's MRVP.[24] As noted in that order, and similarly herein, the Commission believes that Exchange's treatment of CAT Compliance Rules violations as part of its MRVP provides a reasonable means of addressing violations that do not rise to the level of requiring formal disciplinary proceedings, while providing greater flexibility in handling certain violations. However, the Commission expects that, as with FINRA, the Exchange will continue to conduct surveillance with due diligence and make determinations based on its findings, on a case-by-case basis, regarding whether a sanction under the rule is appropriate, or whether a violation requires formal disciplinary action. Accordingly, the Commission believes the proposal raises no novel or significant issues.

For the same reasons discussed above, the Commission finds good cause, pursuant to Section 19(b)(2) of the Act,[25] for approving the proposed rule change prior to the thirtieth day after the date of publication of the notice of the filing thereof in the Federal Register. The proposal merely adds the CAT Compliance Rules to the Exchange's MRVP and harmonizes its application with FINRA's application of CAT Compliance Rules under its own MRVP. Accordingly, the Commission believes that a full notice-and-comment period is not necessary before approving the proposal.

V. Conclusion

It is therefore ordered, pursuant to Section 19(b)(2) of the Act [26] and Rule 19d-1(c)(2) thereunder,[27] that the proposed rule change (SR-IEX-2020-09) be, and hereby is, approved on an accelerated basis.

Start Signature

For the Commission, by the Division of Trading and Markets, pursuant to delegated authority.[28]

J. Matthew DeLesDernier,

Assistant Secretary.

End Signature End Preamble

Footnotes

6.  IEX's minor rule violation plan (“MRVP”) was declared effective by the Commission on August 3, 2016. See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 78474 (August 3, 2016), 81 FR 52717 (August 9, 2016) (File No. 4-701).

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7.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 88870 (May 14, 2020), 85 FR 30768 (May 20, 2020) (SR-FINRA-2020-013). The proposal is also based upon the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) filing to amend NYSE Rule 9217 in order to add NYSE's corresponding CAT Compliance Rules to NYSE's list of rules that are eligible for MRVP treatment. See SR-NYSE-2020-51.

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8.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 80256 (March 15, 2017), 82 FR 14526 (March 21, 2017).

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10.  See Rule 1.160(s).

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11.  FINRA's maximum fine for minor rule violations under FINRA Rule 9216(b) is also $2,500. Like FINRA, the Exchange, or FINRA on its behalf, would be able to pursue a fine greater than $2,500 for violations of the Rule Series 11.600 in a regular disciplinary proceeding or an acceptance, waiver, and consent (“AWC”) under Chapter 9 of the IEX Rule Book, as appropriate. Any fine imposed in excess of $2,500 or not otherwise covered by Rule 19d-1(c)(2) of the Act would be subject to prompt notice to the Commission pursuant to Rule 19d-1 under the Act. As noted below, in assessing the appropriateness of a minor rule fine with respect to CAT Compliance Rules, the Exchange will be guided by the same factors that FINRA utilizes. See text accompanying notes 13-14, infra.

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12.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 88366 (March 12, 2020), 85 FR 15238 (March 17, 2020) (File No. 4-618).

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13.  See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 88870 (May 14, 2020), 85 FR 30768, 30768-69 (May 20, 2020) (SR-FINRA-2020-013); see also FINRA Notice to Members 04-19 (March 2004) (providing specific factors used to inform dispositions for violations of OATS reporting rules).

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14.  See supra note 13.

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18.  15 U.S.C. 78f(b)(7) and 78f(d).

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19.  In approving this proposed rule change, the Commission has considered the proposed rule's impact on efficiency, competition, and capital formation. See 15 U.S.C. 78c(f).

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21.  15 U.S.C. 78f(b)(1) and 78f(b)(6).

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23.  As discussed above, the Exchange has entered into a Rule 17d-2 Plan and an RSA with FINRA with respect to the CAT Compliance Rules. The Commission notes that, unless relieved by the Commission of its responsibility, as may be the case under the Rule 17d-2 Plan, the Exchange continues to bear the responsibility for self-regulatory conduct and liability for self-regulatory failures, not the self-regulatory organization retained to perform regulatory functions on the Exchange's behalf pursuant to an RSA. See Securities Exchange Release No. 61419 (January 26, 2010), 75 FR 5157 (February 1, 2010) (SR-BATS-2009-031), note 93 and accompanying text.

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24.  See supra note 7.

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[FR Doc. 2020-14119 Filed 6-30-20; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8011-01-P