Release Number 8353-21
CFTC Staff Provides Limited Continuation of Certain No-Action Relief to Market Participants in Response to COVID-19
January 19, 2021
Washington, D.C. — The Commodity Futures Trading Commission today announced the Market Participants Division (MPD) and the Division of Market Oversight (DMO) are providing a short continuation of limited parts of the temporary no-action relief issued in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic that expired on January 15, 2021.
Subject to the conditions stated therein, CFTC Staff Letter No. 21-04 provides the following relief:
- Oral Communications Recordkeeping Relief. MPD is providing a brief period of relief from CFTC regulations requiring recording of oral communications related to voice trading and other telephonic communications for IBs and FBs. In conjunction with MPD’s relief, DMO is providing DCMs relief from certain CFTC regulations related to audit trails, and related requirements where non-compliance arises from the inability of IBs and FBs to record voice communications as a result of their displacement, in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic response, from an DCM’s trading floor and/or other designated premises from which customer orders may be placed. Both MPD’s and DMO’s relief expires on March 31, 2021.
- Timestamping Relief for Registrants and Members of Swap Execution Facilities (SEFs), and Designated Contract Markets (DCMs). MPD is providing time-limited, targeted no-action relief for affected firms from time-stamping requirements when they are located in remote, socially-distanced locations. This relief does not apply for customer orders that are able to be entered into a trade-matching engine immediately upon receipt. This relief expires on April 15, 2021.
- Relief from Introducing Broker (IB) Registration and Location Requirements for Floor Brokers (FBs). MPD is providing a limited continuation of relief from IB registration and location requirements for FBs that normally operate on an exchange’s trading floor and/or other designated premises from which customer orders may be placed. This relief expires on April 15, 2021.
- Relief for DCMs. DMO is providing a limited continuation of targeted no-action relief for DCMs from certain CFTC regulations related to audit trails, and related requirements as a result of the displacement of trading personnel from their normal business sites. This relief expires on April 15, 2021.
“All registrants and registered entities that continue to rely on this short continuation of relief are strongly encouraged to take all necessary steps to comply with the related rule requirements ahead of the relief’s expiration,” said MPD Director Joshua Sterling and DMO Director Dorothy DeWitt. “The Commission staff expects that firms will be able to meet those requirements through an appropriate commitment of resources. Those requirements remain critical to effective oversight of market activity, and compliance with them is accordingly critical.”
On March 17, 2020, targeted, temporary relief was granted to a broad spectrum of market participants to support orderly trading and liquidity as they implemented social distancing measures. [See CFTC Press Release Nos. 8132-20 and 8133-20] To date, the CFTC and CFTC staff have taken more than 20 actions to provide market participants temporary, targeted relief in response to the pandemic. A comprehensive list of these actions can be found at cftc.gov/coronavirus.