Release: #4068-97

For Release: October 28, 1997


The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and the Bank of England (Bank) jointly announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) setting forth a pragmatic approach for cooperating and sharing supervisory information. It is the first formal understanding among US and UK securities, futures and banking regulators.

SEC Chairman, Arthur Levitt, CFTC Commissioner, Barbara Holum, and Bank of England Governor, Eddie George, signed the MOU on behalf of their respective agencies. Howard Davies, Chairman of the new UK financial regulator, Financial Services Authority, also signed the MOU to confirm that its provisions will continue upon the transfer of banking supervision from the Bank to the Financial Services Authority some time next year.

The MOU will enhance the ability of the regulators to obtain information about the activities of US and UK internationally active firms, including information about their internal controls and risk management systems. The MOU also sets forth procedures for cooperating to address potentially significant market events experienced by US or UK securities or banking firms. The MOU is expected to improve the effectiveness of financial supervision in an era of cross-border and cross-sectoral activity.

Commenting on the MOU, SEC Chairman Levitt said:

Just as the geographic lines between markets are disappearing, the industry lines are blurring as well. Firms that operate as securities brokers in one nation may operate as a bank in another. This MOU is truly a milestone in regulatory cooperation in an era where there is much truth to the old adage that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. With this MOU, and more importantly, with the relationships the SEC and the CFTC have built with the Bank, the SIB, and now with the Financial Services Authority, we are forgoing a very strong chain indeed.

CFTC Commissioner Holum commented:

On behalf of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, I am pleased to execute this MOU that symbolizes the increased cooperation among the regulators of the banking, securities and futures sectors. It is no longer possible for any one regulator to supervise adequately firms that operate globally, and cooperation among regulatory authorities is essential. We are therefore pleased to join in this precedent-setting initiative that can significantly enhance our ability to supervise firms engaged in global operations. We join the SEC in looking forward to increasing our existing good relations with our UK counterparts.

Bank of England Governor, Eddie George said:

The Bank has over recent years built up an extensive network of information sharing agreements with overseas banking supervisors which we will be bequeathing to the Financial Services Authority. And I particularly welcome this MOU which cements the close relationships that already exist between banking and securities supervisors in the UK and the US. Such relationships are essential in a world increasingly dominated by global financial conglomerates.

Financial Services Authority Chairman, Howard Davies, welcomed the MOU and said:

There could not have been a better start for the Financial Services Authority, on its first day, than to sign an MOU with the SEC and CFTC. It is a symbol of the commitment we plan to give to international co-operation in the future.