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SPEECHES & TESTIMONY

  • Proposed Requirements for Derivatives Clearing Organizations, Designated Contract Markets, and Swap Execution Facilities Regarding the Mitigation of Conflicts of Interest

    Dissenting Statement of Commissioner Jill E. Sommers

    October 1, 2010

    The Commission is voting today on a proposal to implement two sections of the Dodd-Frank Act regarding the governance of CFTC regulated trading venues and clearinghouses that trade or clear swaps and how to mitigate conflicts of interest that may arise in connection with ownership interests that certain entities may have in these registrants. Specifically, Section 725(d) of the Act directs the Commission to:

      adopt rules mitigating conflicts of interest in connection with the conduct of business by a swap dealer or a major swap participant with at [DCO], [DCM], or a [SEF] that clears or trades swaps in which the swap dealer or major swap participant has a material debt or material equity investment.

    Section 726 of the Act provides that the Commission shall adopt rules which “may” include numerical limits on the degree of control or voting rights that certain enumerated entities may possess with respect to DCOs, DCMs and SEFs if the Commission determines, after a review:

      that such rules are necessary or appropriate to improve the governance of, or to mitigate systemic risk, promote competition, or mitigate conflicts of interest in connection with a swap dealer or major swap participant’s conduct of business with, a [DCO], [DCM], or [SEF] that clears or posts swaps or makes swaps available for trading and in which such swap dealer or major swap participant has a material debt or equity investment.

    I recognize that these provisions direct the Commission to adopt strong governance rules to mitigate conflicts of interest in connection with the interaction between swap dealers and major swap participants and DCOs, DCMs and SEFs in which they have a material debt or equity investment. In my opinion, however, the voting equity restrictions being proposed are not necessary or appropriate to mitigate the perceived conflicts and in fact, may do more harm than good to the emerging marketplace for trading and clearing swaps.

    In 2009, after more than two years of study, the Commission finalized acceptable practices to provide a safe harbor for complying with Core Principle 15 for DCMs dealing with conflicts of interest. I support making those acceptable practices mandatory for DCMs, DCOs and SEFs, as augmented by some of the additional provisions being proposed today, such as the Risk Management Committee for DCOs. I believe that strong governance rules, coupled with the Commission’s ultimate authority to determine which swaps must be cleared, under Section 723 of Dodd-Frank, is sufficient to ensure that swaps that should be listed for trading and cleared will be listed for trading and cleared.

    I have grave concerns that the proposed limitations on voting equity, especially those proposed for enumerated entities in the aggregate with respect to DCOs, may stifle competition by preventing new DCMs, DCOs and SEFs that trade or clear swaps from being formed. The Commission recognizes in the preamble to the proposal that the enumerated entities will be the most likely source of funding for new DCMs and SEFs and thus chose not to propose the aggregate limits for trading venues. I believe the same logic applies with even greater force for DCOs. I am equally concerned that a number of recent entrants into the swaps trading and clearing space will potentially be required to disband their operations if they are unable to attract the required amount of non-voting equity within the two-year/two board election cycles proposed. I also note that the European Commission explicitly rejected ownership limitations in its proposal for regulating OTC derivatives announced September 15th because such limitations may have negative consequences for market structures. I agree. And I hope that we will be mindful of global consistency as we move forward. The marketplace for trading and clearing swaps is in its infancy. I strongly believe that the limitations the Commission is proposing will have the effect of inhibiting emerging competition rather than promoting it. I therefore cannot support today’s proposal.

    Last Updated: October 1, 2010



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