Monthly Archives: August 2010

NFA Registration for Forex Managers with a Disciplinary Record

In January 2010, the CFTC proposed rules regarding regulation of retail off-exchange foreign currency (forex) products.  It received over 9,000 comments relating to the forex rules and will start publishing final rules this fall. One component of the proposed rules requires all forex account managers and pool operators to register with the CFTC as forex CTAs and CPOs and to become NFA Members.  For those forex managers with criminal disclosures, a concern is how long it will take to get through the registration process and what registration will entail.

This article describes the registration process for forex managers with disciplinary disclosures and the issues they will likely face.

Anticipated Forex Registration Process

The forex registration procedures are likely going to be the same as those currently in place for regular CPOs and CTAs.  CPOs and CTAs must file the following:

  • a completed online Form 7-R (including NFA membership sections)
  • a non-refundable application fee
  • CPO/CTA Membership Dues

Principals and Associated Persons of a CPO or CTA must also file the following:

  • a completed online Form 8-R
  • Fingerprint Cards
  • Proficiency Requirements (e.g. Series 3)
  • a non-refundable Principal Application Fee
  • a non-refundable Associated Person Application Fee

In addition to providing the application materials discussed above, forex managers will likely have to meet regulatory exam requirements–the Series 34 and Series 3 exams.

Disciplinary Disclosures on Forms 7-R and 8-R

On Forms 7-R and 8-R, the manager must provide disciplinary information for the firm, the Principals, and the Associated Persons.  This includes criminal disclosures, regulatory disclosures, and financial disclosures.  The NFA has indicated that if any of the disciplinary information disclosed is a disqualification from registration under Sections 8a(2) or 8a(3) of the Commodity Exchange Act, the application will probably be reviewed by an internal NFA committee.

Disqualifications under Sections 8a(2) and (3) include, for example:

  • suspension or revocation of prior NFA registration
  • a permanent or temporary injunction from (i) acting as an FCM, IB, floor broker, floor trader, CTA, CPO, associated person, securities broker, etc.; or (ii) activity involving embezzlement, theft, extortion, fraud, misappropriation of funds, etc.
  • a conviction within 10 years for a felony that (i) involves transactions or advice concerning futures contracts; (ii) arises out of the conduct of the business of an FCM, IB, floor broker, CTA, CPO, etc.; or (iii) involves embezzlement, theft, extortion, fraud, misappropriation of funds, securities or property, forgery, etc.
  • a finding, by a federal or state regulatory body, that the manager has violated various securities and commodities laws

It is important to disclose all disciplinary matters.  Failure to disclose such matters could be an additional ground for disqualification from registration.  It is also important that if the forex manager answers “Yes” to any of the disciplinary information questions, he or she provides a written explanation detailing the events and conduct involved.  In addition to this explanation, other documents may also be required by the NFA (e.g. court records).  Failure to provide the additional documentation will inevitably delay the registration process.

Providing Additional Documents for Criminal Matters

If a criminal matter is disclosed, the NFA will want documents that reflect the following information:

  • the complaint;
  • the entry of a plea or plea agreement, or judgement/conviction;
  • the sentence;
  • proof that you completely satisfied your sentence; and
  • the final outcome of the court’s action .

It is probably best to request your entire court file so that the documents are available for the NFA.

Review by an Internal NFA Committee or Scheduling a Hearing

Upon receiving the application materials listed above (and any required supplemental documents (e.g. court records)), the reviewer will forward the case on to the internal NFA committee.  We spoke informally to an NFA reviewer who stated that the committee hears cases once a week, on a first-in, first-out basis.  That committee will review the circumstances of each disqualification independently and decide whether to approve registration or to recommend a proceeding to deny registration.  The NFA reviewer we spoke to said that a decision by this committee is generally made within 24 hours.  Upon approval, the firm will appear on the NFA’s BASIC search engine.  If the application is denied, a denial letter is sent to the manager.  A hearing can then be scheduled with the legal department and additional information regarding the registration may be provided.

At the end of the hearing, the registration is essentially either denied, approved, or approved with conditions.  It is difficult to predict the amount of time it would take for a forex manager with a criminal record to get through the NFA registration process.  If supplemental documents (e.g. court records) are missing, the reviewer will have to send deficiency letters to the manager, which will delay the registration process.

****

Other related hedge fund law articles:

Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP provides legal support and forex registration services to forex managers.  Bart Mallon, Esq. can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

Form ADV Part 2 and State Registration

A couple of weeks ago the SEC announced that they approved certain updates for Form ADV Part 2 .  While these forms will be required for managers who are subject to registration with the SEC (under the new rules, those managers with either $100 or $150 million of assets under management depending on the circumstance), the states are still determining how they are going to handle new Part 2.  We have done a preliminary investigation by calling a number of the more popular states and found that most states are planning to implement new Part 2, but are not sure when the requirement will be finalized.  From our research, Texas is the only state that has set a date for implementation of new Part 2.

The list of states is below.  We will continue to update this list.

****

  • Arizona – will require but not sure starting when
  • California – will require but not sure when
  • Colorado – will require but not sure starting when
  • Connecticut – discussing now and will have a decision at the end of the month
  • Illinois – will require but not sure starting when
  • Massachusetts – will require but not sure starting when
  • Texas – will require starting 01/11

****

Other related hedge fund law articles:

Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP provides legal support and hedge fund compliance services to all types of investment managers.  Bart Mallon, Esq. can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

Emerging CTA Contest

Futures Magazine Looks to Profile “Hot New CTAs”

Futures magazine is looking to profile new CTAs for their annual feature entitled “Hot New CTAs.”  The requirements for potential inclusion in the survey include:

  • have managed customer funds for at least one year as of the end of August
  • have less than $25 million of AUM
  • have a disclosure document
  • have an audited track record

If you are interested, you should pick up a copy of Futures magazine.  The deadline for submissions is August 20.

****

Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP provides legal support as well as CTA and CPO registration services to futures and commodities advisors.  Bart Mallon, Esq. can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP Quarterly Newsletter | 2nd Quarter 2010

Below is our quarterly newsletter.  If you would like to be added to our distribution list, please contact us.

****
July 31, 2010
www.colefrieman.com

Clients and Friends,

We take this opportunity to provide you with a brief overview of the major items we have reported on over the last quarter.  While we are a little late with the newsletter, the past couple of weeks have been especially busy with the passage of the Dodd-Frank reform bill.  There will be continuous rulemaking and proposals over the course of the next 12 months and this newsletter will provide an overview of the issues which we will be discussing in the future.  Also, please be sure to skim the ongoing compliance update below to make sure your firm is up to date with compliance.

****

Financial Reform Bill – The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, signed by President Obama on July 21, 2010, will meaningfully change the investment management industry in a number of ways. Important changes include:

  • Manager Registration – Managers to hedge funds and private equity funds will generally be required to  register with the SEC by July 21, 2011 if they have $150 million or more in AUM.
  • Accredited Investor Definition – The definition of accredited investor has changed. Now, investors cannot include the value of their primary residence when computing net worth. The qualified client definition may also be changed in the future.
  • BD Fiduciary Standard – The SEC will study and potentially institute a fiduciary standard for broker-dealer representatives.
  • Increased State Regulation of Investment Advisers – Previously, the states only had jurisdiction over managers up to $25 million of AUM. Now the states have jurisdiction over managers with up to $100 million of AUM. We have provided our comments on the increase in state regulatory jurisdiction in light of state budget shortfalls.
  • Regulation of the OTC Derivatives Markets – Previously unregulated contacts (like credit default swaps) will be subject to a clearing requirement. There will be much written on this over the next few months as the CFTC and SEC begin establishing a framework for such clearing.
  • Imposition of Position Limits on Certain Commodities (see below)

In addition to the changes to the securities and commodities laws, there will be a number of rulemaking initiatives by both the SEC and CFTC which will augment the statutory language of the bill.

Busy, Busy SEC – Notwithstanding preparations for the Dodd-Frank bill, the SEC has been especially busy over the last quarter.  The big news was obviously the Goldman settlement, but there were a number of other SEC initiatives as well. These include:

New ADV Part 2 Released – The SEC just released the requirements for the new Form ADV Part 2 which will now be publicly available through the SEC’s Advisor Search program.  New Part 2 will require registered managers to provide a narrative of their investment program and other relevant information. Managers also need to provide investors with supplements detailing certain background information about the representative directing an investor’s account.  Most currently registered managers are required to post a new Part 2 during the first quarter of 2011.

Pay to Play Rule Adopted – The SEC adopted new Rule 206(4)-5 under the Investment Advisers Act prohibiting certain political contributions by investment advisory firms.  Firms are urged to update their compliance policies and procedures to account for the new rule.

Advisor Representative Disclosures – The SEC updated its Advisor Search program so that information on investment adviser representatives will now be publicly available online.  Prior to the update, disciplinary and other background information was only publicly available to the extent it was disclosed on the adviser’s Form ADV.

Futures/ Commodities Issues – Like the SEC, the CFTC has been very busy over the last quarter and will continue to be busy proposing rules under the Dodd-Frank bill. Accordingly, there are a number of interesting items concerning both the CFTC and NFA. These include:

Position Limits – Dodd-Frank mandates the CFTC to impose position limits across different markets including traditional futures markets, agricultural markets, and with respect to certain swap instruments. The CFTC will be releasing orders or proposed rules establishing limits within 180 days for energy commodities and within 270 days for agricultural commodities.  Position limits will affect commodities transactions that have previously qualified for broad statutory exemptions and traders will need to closely monitor trading activity to avoid violating the limits when they are established and implemented.

CFTC Releases Report on NFA – The CFTC audited the NFA in 2009 to gauge how successfully the self regulatory organization implemented certain CFTC regulations.  The CFTC noted a number of areas where the NFA should improve procedures.  We have already seen some of the suggestions implemented and, accordingly, the registration process (in certain instances) is taking a little longer than usual.

CTA & CPO Disclosure Document Bios – For CTAs and CPOs registering with the CFTC, one area where the NFA seems to spend considerable time is the biography portion of the disclosure documents.  Because of common deficiencies with respect to the biographies (or manager backgrounds), the NFA released guidance on how this part of a disclosure document should be completed.

Form 8-R Revised – Form 8-R applications for principal and associated person registration has been revised to include demographic information on the registrant.  The newly added information includes sex, race, eye color, hair color, height and weight.  The purpose of the additions was to help speed up the background check process for principals and associated persons.

NFA Forex Workshop Announced – In expectation of the CFTC finalizing the forex registration rules for forex CTAs, CPOs and IBs, the NFA is conducting a registration and compliance workshop for forex managers.  The workshop will take place on September 25th, 2010 at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. NFA staff will be on hand to discuss the registration process and to take questions from managers.

Other Notes

Hedge Fund Carried Interest – Every few months the taxation of the carried interest becomes a political football.  Early in the quarter it looked like the carried interest tax would be changed as part of an unemployment extension bill.  However, that bill never passed and the proposal to tax the carried interest as ordinary income died.  We expect to probably hear another proposal like this in the next 12 to 18 months.

Hedge Fund Court Case – Earlier this year a court case was decided in favor of a hedge fund manager when that manager suspended redemptions and was subsequently sued by an investor.  We discussed the facts of the case and the manager takeaways.

Ongoing Compliance – At the end of every quarter, managers should take time to address any ongoing compliance matters.  Managers who are registered in any capacity (state, SEC or CFTC) should review their compliance calendar or policies and procedures to ensure that all quarterly compliance matters are completed.  Additionally managers should always be sure to complete all state blue sky filings and commodity pool operators should make sure they complete their Rule 2-46 quarterly filings.

****

For assistance with any compliance, registration, or planning issues with respect to any of the above topics, please contact Bart Mallon of Mallon P.C. (www.mallonpc.com) at 415-868-5345 or [email protected]

Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP is a hedge fund law firm with a national client base and is focused on the investment management industry.  Our clients include hedge fund managers, investment advisers, commodity advisors, and other investment managers.  We also provide general business and start up legal advice and have an emerging practice in real estate and cleantech.

150 Spear Street, Suite 825
San Francisco, CA 94105
Telephone: (415) 352-2300
Fax: (646) 619-4800

Dodd-Frank Establishes New Laws Regarding Spot Commodities and Spot Forex

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Act”) has changed a number of laws in all of the securities acts including the Commodity Exchange Act.  Two specific changes deal with certain transactions in commodities on the spot market.  Specifically, Section 742 of the Act deals with retail commodity transactions.  In this section, the text of the Commodity Exchange Act is amended to include new Section 2(c)(2)(D) (dealing with retail commodity transactions) and new Section 2(c)(2)(E) (prohibiting trading in spot forex with retail investors unless the trader is subject to regulations by a Federal regulatory agency, i.e. CFTC, SEC, etc.).  According to a congressional rulemaking spreadsheet, these are effective 180 days from the date of enactment.

We provide an overview of the new sections and have reprinted them in full below.

New CEA Section 2(c)(2)(D) – Concerning Spot Commodities (Metals)

The central import of new CEA Section 2(c)(2)(D) is to broaden the CFTC’s power with respect to retail commodity transactions.  Essentially any spot commodities transaction (i.e. spot metals) will be subject to CFTC jurisdiction and rulemaking authority.  There is an exemption for commodities which are actually delivered within 28 days.  While the CFTC wanted an exemption in which commodities would need to be delivered within 2 days, various coin collectors were able to lobby congress for a longer delivery period (see here).

It is likely we will see the CFTC propose regulations under this new section and we will keep you updated on any regulatory pronouncements with respect to this new section.

New CEA Section 2(c)(2)(E) – Concerning Spot Forex

The central import of new CEA Section 2(c)(2)(E) is to regulate the spot forex markets.  While the section requires the CFTC to finalize regulations with respect to spot forex (which were proposed earlier in January), it also, interestingly, provides  oversight of the markets to other federal regulatory agencies such as the CFTC.  This means that in the future, different market participants may be subject to different regulatory regimes with respect to trading in same underlying instruments.  A Wall Street Journal article discusses the impact of this with respect to firms which engage in other activities in addition to retail forex transactions.  The CFTC’s proposed rules establish certain compliance parameters for retail forex transactions, requires registration of retail forex managers and requires such managers to pass a new regulatory exam called the Series 34 exam.  We do not yet know whether the other regulatory agencies will adopt rules similar to the CFTC or if they will write rules from scratch.

****

CEA Section 2(c)(2)(D)

‘‘(D) RETAIL COMMODITY TRANSACTIONS.—

‘‘(i) APPLICABILITY.—Except as provided in clause (ii), this subparagraph shall apply to any agreement, contract, or transaction in any commodity that is—

‘‘(I) entered into with, or offered to (even if not entered into with), a person that is not an eligible contract participant or eligible commercial entity; and

‘‘(II) entered into, or offered (even if not entered into), on a leveraged or margined basis, or financed by the offeror, the counterparty, or a person acting in concert with the offeror or counterparty on a similar basis.

‘‘(ii) EXCEPTIONS.—This subparagraph shall not apply to—

‘‘(I) an agreement, contract, or transaction described in paragraph (1) or subparagraphs (A), (B), or (C), including any agreement, contract, or transaction specifically excluded from subparagraph (A), (B), or (C);

‘‘(II) any security;

‘‘(III) a contract of sale that—

‘‘(aa) results in actual delivery within 28 days or such other longer period as the Commission may determine by rule or regulation based upon the typical commercial practice in cash or spot markets for the commodity involved; or

‘‘(bb) creates an enforceable obligation to deliver between a seller and a buyer that have the ability to deliver and accept delivery, respectively, in connection with the line of business of the seller and buyer; or

‘‘(IV) an agreement, contract, or transaction that is listed on a national securities exchange registered under section 6(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78f(a)); or

‘‘(V) an identified banking product, as defined in section 402(b) of the Legal Certainty for Bank Products Act of 2000 (7 U.S.C.27(b)).

‘‘(iii) ENFORCEMENT.—Sections 4(a), 4(b), and 4b apply to any agreement, contract, or transaction described in clause (i), as if the agreement, contract, or transaction was a contract of sale of a commodity for future delivery.

‘‘(iv) ELIGIBLE COMMERCIAL ENTITY.—For purposes of this subparagraph, an agricultural producer, packer, or handler shall be considered to be an eligible commercial entity for any agreement, contract, or transaction for a commodity in connection with the line of business of the agricultural producer, packer, or handler.’’.

****

CEA Section 2(c)(2)(E)

‘‘(E) PROHIBITION.—

‘‘(i) DEFINITION OF FEDERAL REGULATORY AGENCY.—In this subparagraph, the term ‘Federal regulatory agency’ means—

‘‘(I) the Commission;

‘‘(II) the Securities and Exchange Commission;

‘‘(III) an appropriate Federal banking agency;

‘‘(IV) the National Credit Union Association; and

‘‘(V) the Farm Credit Administration.

‘‘(ii) PROHIBITION.—

‘‘(I) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in subclause (II), a person described in subparagraph (B)(i)(II) for which there is a Federal regulatory agency shall not offer to, or enter into with, a person that is not an eligible contract participant, any agreement, contract, or transaction in foreign currency described in subparagraph (B)(i)(I) except pursuant to a rule or regulation of a Federal regulatory agency allowing the agreement, contract, or transaction under such terms and conditions as the Federal regulatory agency shall prescribe.

‘‘(II) EFFECTIVE DATE.—With regard to persons described in subparagraph (B)(i)(II) for which a Federal regulatory agency has issued a proposed rule concerning agreements, contracts, or transactions in foreign currency described in subparagraph (B)(i)(I) prior to the date of enactment of this subclause, subclause (I) shall take effect 90 days after the date of enactment of this subclause.

‘‘(iii) REQUIREMENTS OF RULES AND REGULATIONS.—

‘‘(I) IN GENERAL.—The rules and regulations described in clause (ii) shall prescribe appropriate requirements with respect to—

‘‘(aa) disclosure;

‘‘(bb) recordkeeping;

‘‘(cc) capital and margin;

‘‘(dd) reporting;

‘‘(ee) business conduct;

‘‘(ff) documentation; and

‘‘(gg) such other standards or requirements as the Federal regulatory agency shall determine to be necessary.

‘‘(II) TREATMENT.—The rules or regulations described in clause (ii) shall treat all agreements, contracts, and transactions in foreign currency described in subparagraph (B)(i)(I), and all agreements, contracts, and transactions in foreign currency that are functionally or economically similar to agreements, contracts, or transactions described in subparagraph (B)(i)(I), similarly.’’.

****

Other related hedge fund law articles:

Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP provides legal support and forex registration services to forex managers.  Bart Mallon, Esq. can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

Hedge Fund Events August 2010

The following are various hedge fund events happening this month.  Please email us if you would like us to add your event to this list.

****

Aug 2-3

August 3

August 3

August 5

August 5

August 9-13

August 11

August 11

August 12

August 12

August 22

August 24

August 24-26

August 25-27

August 25-27

August 31 – September 1

August 31 – September 3

****

Bart Mallon, Esq. runs the hedge fund law blog and provides hedge fund registration and compliance services to hedge fund managers through Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP, a leading hedge fund law firm.  He can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.