17 CFR Part 3, Appendix A to Part 3 - Interpretative Statement With Respect to Section 8a(2)(C) and (E) and Section 8a(3)(J) and (M) of the Commodity Exchange Act

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Appendix A to Part 3—Interpretative Statement With Respect to Section 8a(2)(C) and (E) and Section 8a(3)(J) and (M) of the Commodity Exchange Act
Section 8a(2) (C) and (E)
The provisions of sections 8a(2)-8a(4) of the Commodity Exchange Act (“Act”) establish a system of statutory disqualifications pursuant to which the Commission may find an applicant or registrant unfit for registration and vest the Commission with wide discretion to deny, condition, suspend, restrict or revoke the registration of any person subject to one or more of the disqualifications set forth therein. The Commission recognizes that the full exercise of its authority under these provisions of the Act may have unintended results. In particular, the exercise of such authority may, in certain cases, impede the efficient enforcement of the Act and the various federal and state securities acts.
At this time, the Commission cannot anticipate all of the circumstances under which it may elect not to exercise its authority under sections 8a(2)-8a(4). Until the Commission has gained experience with these provisions of the Act, such determinations generally must be made on a case-by-case basis. Nonetheless, the Commission has identified two paragraphs of section 8a(2) of the Act which it has determined to interpret more narrowly than required.
Section 8a(2)(C).Section 8a(2) of the Act authorizes the Commission to deny, condition, suspend or restrict the registration of any person “upon notice, but without a hearing” and to revoke the registration of any person “with such hearing as may be appropriate,” if such person is subject to one or more of the disqualifications described in paragraphs (A)-(H). Section 8a(2)(C) authorizes the Commission to affect the registration of any person:
“if such person is permanently or temporarily enjoined by order, judgment, or decree of any court of competent jurisdiction * * * , including an order entered pursuant to an agreement of settlement to which the Commission or any Federal or State agency or other governmental body is a party, from (i) acting as a futures commission merchant, introducing broker, floor broker, floor trader, commodity trading advisor, commodity pool operator, associated person of any registrant under the Act, securities broker, securities dealer, municipal securities broker, municipal securities dealer, transfer agent, clearing agency, securities information processor, investment advisor, investment company, or affiliated person or employee of any of the foregoing or (ii) engaging in or continuing any activity involving any transaction in or advice concerning contracts of sale of a commodity for future delivery, concerning matters subject to Commission regulation under section 4c or 19 of the Act, or concerning securities;”
The Commission believes that a person enjoined from acting in a certain capacity as described in section 8a(2)(C)(i), even if the order of injunction is entered into pursuant to an agreement of settlement, similarly should be prohibited from acting in any other capacity which requires registration with the Commission. Therefore, the Commission does not intend to limit its authority under section 8a(2)(C)(i) of the Act.
However, the Commission is also aware that it has often initiated proceedings in which the sole relief sought was an injunction from engaging in certain conduct. In such circumstances, the Commission has accepted offers of settlement which provide that the findings set forth in the settlement will not form the sole basis for the denial, suspension or revocation of such person's registration with the Commission. The Commission does not wish to impede the resolution by negotiated settlement of such proceedings. Therefore, the Commission has determined that it will not exercise its authority under section 8a(2)(C)(ii) of the Act with respect to any person temporarily or permanently enjoined by agreement of settlement from engaging in any conduct described in that paragraph, if the agreement of settlement clearly restricts the use of such order of injunction or any findings set forth therein in subsequent or collateral proceedings.
Thus, a provision in the agreement of settlement to the effect, inter alia, that the findings set forth in the agreement will not form the sole basis upon which the registration of such person may be affected will preclude a collateral proceeding under section 8a(2)(C)(ii) where the sole basis for such proceeding is the agreement of settlement. Unless otherwise precluded in the agreement of settlement, however, the person will be collaterally estopped from denying the findings set forth therein, whether or not admitted, in any other subsequent or collateral proceeding and such findings may, in conjunction with the findings in such subsequent or collateral proceeding, form a basis for affecting the registration of that person or imposing such other sanctions as may be deemed appropriate.
Section 8a(2)(E) of the Act authorizes the Commission to affect the registration of any person:
If such person, within ten years preceding the filing of the application or at any time thereafter, has been found in a proceeding brought by the Commission or any Federal or State agency or other governmental body, or by agreement of settlement to which the Commission or any Federal or State agency or other governmental body is a party, (i) to have violated any provision of this Act, [the securities acts], chapter 96 of title 18 of the United States Code, or any similar statute of a State or foreign jurisdiction, or any rule, regulation, or order under any such statutes, or the rules of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board where such violation involves embezzlement, theft, extortion, fraud, fraudulent conversion, misappropriation of funds, securities or property, forgery, counterfeiting, false pretenses, bribery, or gambling, or (ii) to have willfully aided, abetted, counseled, commanded, induced, or procured such violation by any other person;
As in section 8a(2)(C)(ii), the Commission will not exercise its authority under section 8a(2)(E) of the Act with respect to any person subject to a statutory disqualification thereunder, if the findings are part of an agreement of settlement which clearly restricts the use of such findings by inclusion of a provision to the effect, inter alia, that the findings set forth in the agreement will not form the sole basis upon which the registration of such person may be affected.
Section 2(a)(1)(A) of the Act, inter alia, codifies the legal concept of respondant superior by providing that a futures commission merchant, introducing broker, commodity trading advisor, commodity pool operator or leverage transaction merchant may be held liable for the conduct of an associated person sponsored by such registrant. * Thus, findings of the type described in paragraph (E) may be entered against a registrant solely because such registrant is responsible, under section 2(a)(1)(A) of the Act, for the conduct of its associated persons. As prescribed in § 3.57 of the Commission's regulations, however, the Commission will not exercise its authority under section 8a(2)(E) to affect the registration of such registrant, if respondant superior is the sole basis for finding that the registrant is subject to a statutory disqualification.

Footnote(s):
* Specifically, section 2(a)(1)(A)(iii) of the Act provides in part, that the “act, omission or failure of any official, agent, or other person acting for any individual, association, partnership, corporation, or trust within the scope of his employment or office shall be deemed the act, omission, or failure of such individual, association, partnership, corporation, or trust as well as of such official, agent, or other person.” 7 U.S.C. 4 (1982).

The Commission notes that section 8a(3)(C) and 8a(4) authorize the Commission to affect the registration of a person if it is found, after notice and opportunity for a hearing, that such person “failed reasonably to supervise another person, who is subject to such person's supervision, with a view to preventing violations of this Act or [the securities acts], or of any of the rules, regulation or orders thereunder, and the person subject to supervision committed such a violation * * *” In this connection, the Commission believes that any proceeding to affect the registration of a registrant against which findings have been made solely pursuant to section 2(a)(1)(A) of the Act is more appropriately initiated under the provisions of section 8a(3)(C) and 8a(4).
Section 8a(2)(E) may also be interpreted to authorize the Commission to affect the registration of any person if the findings described therein are made in a proceeding initiated by a private party either in a court of law or in a reparations proceeding under section 14 of the Act. At the present time, however, the Commission does not intend to exercise its authority under section 8a(2)(E) on the basis of such findings. The Commission believes that such proceedings are intended primarily to provide restitution to the customer and are not intended to be punitive in nature. Therefore, it may not be appropriate to use findings in such proceedings to affect the registration of any person under section 8a(2)(E).
At the same time, however, such findings may form the basis of a proceeding against a person under the provisions of section 8a(3)(M) and 8a(4), which authorize the Commission, after notice and opportunity for a hearing, to deny, condition, suspend, restrict or revoke the registration of any person if “there is other good cause.” Similarly, such findings may form the basis for a proceeding against a registrant under sections 8a(3)(C) and 8a(4) for the failure of such registrant “reasonably to supervise another person, who is subject to such person's supervision, with a view to preventing violations of this Act * * * or of any of the rules, regulations or orders thereunder * * *” Moreover, because the Commission views actions by private parties as an important adjunct to the Commission's own enforcement proceedings, the Commission intends to monitor carefully decisions in such proceedings and may amend this interpretation if deemed appropriate.
Section 8a(3) (J) and (M)
Section 8a(3) authorizes the Commission to refuse to register an applicant for registration if, after notice and opportunity for a hearing, the applicant is found subject to one or more of the disqualifications described in paragraphs (A)-(M). Section 8a(4) authorizes the Commission, after notice and opportunity for a hearing, to condition, suspend, restrict, or revoke the registration of any person subject to a disqualification under section 8a(3).
Section 8a(3)(J) authorizes the Commission to affect the registration of any person if:
such person is subject to an outstanding order denying, suspending, or expelling such person from membership in a contract market, a registered futures association, any other self-regulatory organization or any foreign regulatory body that the Commission recognizes as having a comparable regulatory program, or barring or suspending such person from being associated with any member or members of such contract market, association, self-regulatory organization, or foreign regulatory body.
The Commission interprets the term “self-regulatory organization” to include, in addition to a contract market and a registered futures association, any self-regulatory organization as defined in section 3(a)(26) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Thus, a self-regulatory organization includes any national securities exchange, any registered securities association, any registered clearing agency and the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board.
Section 8a(3)(M).Section 8a(3)(M) authorizes the Commission to affect the registration of any person if “there is other good cause”. Specifically, the Commission interprets paragraph (M) to authorize the Commission to refuse to register such person in any new capacity, if such person, or any principal of such person, is the subject of an administrative proceeding brought by the Commission to revoke the existing registration of such person in any other capacity, pending a final decision in such administrative proceeding. The Commission believes it would be inconsistent to register a person in a new capacity, thereby determining that such person is qualified to be registered, while simultaneously seeking to revoke such person's registration in a different capacity because such person's conduct disqualifies him from registration.
Similarly, the Commission interprets paragraph (M) to authorize the Commission to refuse to register, register conditionally or otherwise affect the registration of any person if such person has consented, in connection with an agreement of settlement with a contract market, a registered futures association, or any other self-regulatory organization, to comply with an undertaking to withdraw all forms of existing or pending registration and/or not to apply for registration with the National Futures Association or the Commission in any capacity. Such person's effort to violate his or her prior undertaking to withdraw from and/or not to apply for registration shall be considered to constitute “other good cause” under paragraph (M). The Commission believes that allowing such a person to be registered would be inappropriate and inconsistent with the intention of parties to the prior settlement agreement. The failure to withdraw or the attempt to register in the face of such an undertaking would indicate the lack of fair and honest dealing which the Commission believes constitutes “other good cause” for denying, revoking or conditioning registration under the Act. The Commission also believes that allowing registration in such a situation would be inconsistent with both Section 8a(2)(A), which authorizes the Commission to refuse to register, to register conditionally, or to revoke, suspend or place restrictions upon the registration of any person if such person's prior registration has been suspended (and the period of such suspension has not expired) or has been revoked, and Section 8a(3)(J), which authorizes the Commission to refuse to register or to register conditionally any person if he or she is subject to an outstanding order denying, suspending, or expelling such person from membership in a contract market, a registered futures association, or any other self-regulatory organization.
Good cause to affect a person's registration also exists: (1) If the operations of such person disrupt or would tend to disrupt orderly market conditions, or cause or would tend to cause sudden or unreasonable fluctuations or unwarranted changes in the price of commodities or contracts for future delivery of commodities or commodity options; (2) if such person has used or is using in its name a term such as “board of trade”, “clearing corporation” or “exchange” in a misleading context, or uses any terms in its representations to the public which may indicate that the person is a contract market or a member of a contract market when such is not the case, or has used or is using a misleading name which would tend to suggest to the public that the person is affiliated with another person when that is not the case or that the person is engaged in a commodity-related business when the person is not in fact substantially so engaged, or has failed to disclose to the public an agency relationship with another person when such failure could mislead the public; (3) if such person is subject to an outstanding order denying, suspending or revoking the license of such person by a licensing authority, such as a state real estate or insurance commission; and (4) if such person has failed to answer the inquiries or requests for further information concerning an application for registration filed with the Commission.
This listing, of course, is not exclusive. In general, the Commission interprets paragraph (M) to authorize the Commission to affect the registration of any person if, as a result of any act or pattern of conduct attributable to such person, although never the subject of formal action or proceeding before either a court or governmental agency, such person's potential disregard of or inability to comply with the requirements of the Act or the rules, regulations or order thereunder, or such person's moral turpitude, or lack of honesty or financial responsibility is demonstrated to the Commission.
Any inability to deal fairly with the public and consistent with just and equitable principles of trade may render an applicant or registrant unfit for registration, given the high ethical standards which must prevail in the industry.
The Commission has further addressed “other good cause” under Section 8a(3)(M) of the Act in issuing guidance letters on assessing the fitness of floor brokers, floor traders or applicants in either category:
[First guidance letter]
December 4, 1997
Robert K. Wilmouth, President, National Futures Association, 200 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL 60606-3447
Re: Adverse Registration Actions with Respect to Floor Brokers, Floor Traders and Applicants for Registration in Either Category
Dear Mr. Wilmouth: As you know, the Commission on June 26, 1997, approved for publication in the Federal Register a Notice and Order concerning adverse registration actions by the National Futures Association (“NFA”) with respect to registered floor brokers (“FBs”), registered floor traders (“FTs”) and applicants for registration in either category. 62 Fed. Reg. 36050 (July 3, 1997). The Notice and Order authorized NFA to grant or to maintain, either with or without conditions or restrictions, FB or FT registration where NFA previously would have forwarded the case to the Commission for review of disciplinary history. The Commission has worked with its staff to determine which of the pending matters could efficiently be returned to NFA for handling, and such matters have been forwarded to NFA. The Commission will continue to accept or to act upon requests for exemption, and the Commission staff will consider requests for “no-action” opinions with respect to applicable registration requirements.
By this correspondence, the Commission is issuing guidance that provides NFA further direction on how it expects NFA to exercise its delegated power, based upon the experience of the Commission and the staff with the registration review process during the past three years. This guidance will help ensure that NFA exercises its delegated power in a manner consistent with Commission precedent.
In exercising its delegated authority, NFA, of course, needs to apply all of the provisions of Sections 8a(2) and (3) of the Commodity Exchange Act (“Act”). 1 In that regard, NFA should consider the matters in which the Commission has taken action in the past and endeavor to seek similar registration restrictions, conditions, suspensions, denials, or revocations under similar circumstances.

Footnote(s):
1 7 U.S.C. 12a(2) and (3) (1994). The letter is intended to supplement, not to supersede, other guidance provided in the past to NFA. In this regard, the NFA should continue to follow other guidance provided by the Commission or its staff.

One of the areas in which NFA appears to have had the most uncertainty is with regard to previous self-regulatory organization (“SRO”) disciplinary actions. Commission Rule 1.63 2 provides clear guidelines for determining whether a person's history of “disciplinary offenses” should preclude service on SRO governing boards or committees. 3 In determining whether to grant or to maintain, either with or without conditions or restrictions, FB or FT registration, NFA should, as an initial matter, apply the Rule 1.63(a)(6) criteria to those registered FBs, registered FTs and applicants for registration in either category. However, NFA should be acting based upon any such offenses that occurred within the previous five years, rather than the three years provided for in Rule 1.63(c). NFA should consider disciplinary actions taken by an SRO as that term is defined in Section 3(a)(26) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 no differently from disciplinary actions taken by an SRO in the futures industry as defined in Rule 1.3(ee). 4 Application of the Rule 1.63 criteria, as modified, to these matters will aid NFA in making registration determinations that are reasonably consonant with Commission views. 5 NFA should focus on the nature of the underlying conduct rather than the sanction imposed by an SRO. Thus, if a disciplinary action would not come within the coverage of Rule 1.63 but for the imposition of a short suspension of trading privileges (such as for a matter involving fighting, use of profane language or minor recordkeeping violations), NFA could exercise discretion, as has the Commission, not to institute a statutory disqualification case. On the other hand, conduct that falls clearly within the terms of Rule 1.63, such as violations of rules involving potential harm to customers of the exchange, should not be exempt from review simply because the exchange imposed a relatively minor sanction.

Footnote(s):
2 Commission rules referred to herein are found at 17 CFR Ch. I.


Footnote(s):
3 Rule 1.63(c) provides that a person is ineligible from serving on an SRO's disciplinary committees, arbitration panels, oversight panels or governing board if, as provided in Rule 1.63(b), the person, inter alia: (1) within the past three years has been found by a final decision of an SRO, an administrative law judge, a court of competent jurisdiction or the Commission to have committed a disciplinary offense; or (2) within the past three years has entered into a settlement agreement in which any of the findings or, in the absence of such findings, any of the acts charged included a disciplinary offense.
Rule 1.63(a)(6) provides that a “disciplinary offense” includes: (i) any violation of the rules of an SRO except those rules related to (A) decorum or attire, (B) financial requirements, or (C) reporting or record-keeping unless resulting in fines aggregating more than $5,000 within any calendar year; (ii) any rule violation described in subparagraphs (A) through (C) above that involves fraud, deceit or conversion or results in a suspension or expulsion; (iii) any violation of the Act or the regulations promulgated thereunder; or (iv) any failure to exercise supervisory responsibility with respect to an act described in paragraphs (i) through (iii) above when such failure is itself a violation of either the rules of an SRO, the Act or the regulations promulgated thereunder.


Footnote(s):
4 Thus, for example, a disciplinary action taken by the Chicago Board Options Exchange or the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. should be considered in a manner similar to a disciplinary action of the Chicago Board of Trade or NFA.


Footnote(s):
5 In reviewing these matters, the NFA should bear in mind recent Commission precedent which allows for reliance on settled disciplinary proceedings in some circumstances. See In the Matter of Michael J. Clark, [1996-1998 Transfer Binder] Comm. Fut. L. Rep. (CCH) ¶ 27,032 (Apr. 22, 1997) (“other good cause” under Section 8a(3)(M) of the Act exists based upon a pattern of exchange disciplinary actions resulting in significant sanctions for serious rule violations—whether settlements or adjudications), aff'd sub nom., Clark v. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, No. 97-4228 (2d Cir. June 4, 1999) (unpublished).

The Commission has treated the registration process and the SRO disciplinary process as separate matters involving separate considerations. The fact that the Commission has not pursued its own enforcement case in a particular situation does not necessarily mean that the Commission considers the situation to be a minor matter for which no registration sanctions are appropriate. Further, the Commission believes that it and NFA, entities with industry-wide perspective and responsibilities, are the appropriate bodies, rather than any individual exchange, to decide issues relating to registration status, which can affect a person's ability to function in the industry well beyond the jurisdiction of a particular exchange. Thus, NFA's role is in no way related to review of exchange sanctions for particular conduct, but rather it is the entirely separate task of determining whether an FB's or FT's conduct should impact his or her registration.
NFA also should look to Commission precedent in selecting conditions or restrictions to be imposed, such as a dual trading ban where a person has been involved in disciplinary offenses involving customer abuse. Where conditions or restrictions are imposed, or agreed upon, NFA also should follow Commission precedent, under which such conditions or restrictions generally have been imposed for a two-year period.
The Commission has required sponsorship for conditioned FBs and FTs when their disciplinary offenses have involved noncompetitive trading and fraud irrespective of the level of sanctions imposed by an SRO. Indeed, but for a sponsorship requirement there would be no one routinely watching and responsible for the activities of these registrants. Absent sponsorship, such FBs and FTs would only be subject to routine Commission and exchange surveillance. The Commission's rules are premised upon the judgment that requiring FTs and FBs to have sponsors to ensure their compliance with conditions is both appropriate and useful. See Rule 3.60(b)(2)(i).
A question has arisen whether, if NFA is required to prove up the underlying facts of an SRO disciplinary action, the exchanges can provide information on exchange disciplinary proceedings directly to NFA. Although Section 8c(a)(2) of the Act states that an exchange shall not disclose the evidence for a disciplinary action except to the person disciplined and to the Commission, Section 8a(10) of the Act allows the Commission to authorize any person to perform any portion of the registration functions under the Act, notwithstanding any other provision of law. The effective discharge of the delegated registration function requires NFA to have access to the exchange evidence. Thus, the Commission believes that Section 8a(10) may reasonably be interpreted to allow the disclosure of information from exchange disciplinary proceedings directly to NFA despite the provisions of Section 8c(a)(2).
Nothing in the Notice and Order affects the Commission's authority to review the granting of a registration application by NFA in the performance of Commission registration functions, including review of the sufficiency of conditions or restrictions imposed by NFA, to review the determination by NFA not to take action to affect an existing registration, or to take its own action to address a statutory disqualification. Moreover, the Commission Order contemplates that to allow for appropriate Commission oversight of NFA's exercise of this delegated authority, NFA will provide for the Commission's review quarterly schedules of all applicants cleared for registration and all registrants whose registrations are maintained without adverse action by NFA's Registration, Compliance, Legal Committee despite potential statutory disqualifications.
The Commission will continue to monitor NFA activities through periodic rule enforcement reviews, and NFA remains subject to the present requirement that it monitor compliance with the conditions and restrictions imposed on conditioned and restricted registrants.
Sincerely,
Jean A. Webb, Secretary of the Commission
[Second guidance letter]
April 13, 2000
Robert K. Wilmouth, President, National Futures Association, 200 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL 60606-3447
Re: Use of Exchange Disciplinary Actions as “Other Good Cause” to Affect Floor Broker/Floor Trader Registration
Dear Mr. Wilmouth:
I. Introduction and Background
In July 1997, the Commission issued a Notice and Order authorizing the National Futures Association (“NFA”) to grant or to maintain, either with or without conditions or restrictions, floor broker (“FB”) or floor trader (“FT”) registration where NFA previously would have forwarded the case to the Commission for review of disciplinary history. 1 By letter dated December 4, 1997 (“Guidance Letter”), the Commission provided further direction on how the Commission expected NFA to exercise its delegated power and to ensure that NFA exercised its delegated power in a manner consistent with Commission precedent.

Footnote(s):
1 Registration Actions by National Futures Association With Respect to Floor Brokers, Floor Traders and Applicants for Registration in Either Category, 62 FR 36050 (July 3, 1997).

The Commission has determined to revise the Guidance Letter. Specifically, the Commission is revising the portion of the Guidance Letter that addresses the use of exchange disciplinary actions as “other good cause” to affect FB and FT registrations. The Commission has made this determination following its own reconsideration of the issue and at the urging of industry members. 2

Footnote(s):
2 See letters submitted by James Bowe, former president of the New York Board of Trade (“NYBOT”), dated October 13, 1999, Christopher Bowen, general counsel of the New York Mercantile Exchange (“NYMEX”), dated October 18, 1999, and the Joint Compliance Committee (“JCC”), dated February 2, 2000. The JCC consists of senior compliance officials from all domestic futures exchanges and the NFA (i.e., the domestic self-regulatory organizations (“SROs”)). In addition, staff from the Contract Markets Section of the Commission's Division of Swap Dealer and Intermediary Oversight attend the JCC meetings as observers. The JCC was established to aid in the development of improved compliance systems through joint efforts and information-sharing among the SROs. Commission staff have also discussed this issue with SRO staff.

The Guidance Letter pointed out that, in exercising its delegated authority, NFA must apply all of the provisions of Sections 8a(2) and (3) of the Commodity Exchange Act (“Act”). 3 In particular, Section 8a(3)(M) of the Act authorizes the Commission to refuse to register or to register conditionally any person if it is found, after opportunity for hearing, that there is other good cause for statutory disqualification from registration beyond the specifically listed grounds in Sections 8a(2) and 8a(3) of the Act. The Commission held in In the Matter of Clark that statutory disqualification under the “other good cause” provision of Section 8a(3)(M) may arise on the basis of, among other things, a pattern of exchange disciplinary actions alleging serious rule violations that result in significant sanctions, and that it is immaterial whether the sanctions imposed resulted from a fully-adjudicated disciplinary action or an action that was taken following a settlement. 4

Footnote(s):
3 7 U.S.C. 12a(2) and (3) (1994).


Footnote(s):
4 In the Matter of Clark, [1996-1998 Transfer Binder] Comm. Fut. L. Rep. (CCH) ¶ 27,032 (Apr. 22, 1997), aff'd sub nom., Clark v. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, No. 97-4228 (2d Cir. June 4, 1999) (unpublished).

The Guidance Letter recommended the application of the provisions of Commission Rule 1.63 5 as criteria to aid in assessing the impact of an FB or FT applicant's or registrant's previous disciplinary history on the person's fitness to be registered, with the exception that NFA should be acting based on disciplinary history from the previous five years, rather than the three years provided for in Rule 1.63. 6 The Guidance Letter also noted that NFA should consider disciplinary actions taken not only by futures industry SROs but also those taken by SROs as defined in Section 3(a)(26) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“1934 Act”), including settled disciplinary actions.

Footnote(s):
5 Commission rules referred to in this letter are found at 17 CFR Ch. 1.


Footnote(s):
6 Rule 1.63 provides, among other things, that a person is ineligible from serving on SRO disciplinary committees, arbitration panels, oversight panels or governing boards if that person, inter alia, entered into a settlement agreement within the past three years in which any of the findings or, in the absence of such findings, any of the acts charged included a disciplinary offense.
Rule 1.63(a)(6) defines a “disciplinary offense” to include:
(i) any violation of the rules of an SRO except those rules related to (A) decorum or attire, (B) financial requirements, or (C) reporting or record-keeping unless resulting in fines aggregating more than $5,000 within any calendar year; (ii) any rule violation described in subparagraphs (A) through (C) above that involves fraud, deceit or conversion or results in a suspension or expulsion; (iii) any violation of the Act or the regulations promulgated thereunder; or (iv) any failure to exercise supervisory responsibility with respect to an act described in paragraphs (i) through (iii) above when such failure is itself a violation of either the rules of an SRO, the Act or the regulations promulgated thereunder.

II. Revised Guidance
As stated above, the Commission has determined to revise the Guidance Letter. From this point forward, NFA should cease using Rule 1.63 as the basis to evaluate the impact of an FB or FT applicant's or registrant's disciplinary history on his or her fitness to be registered. Instead, as Clark stated, when reviewing disciplinary history to assess the fitness to be registered of an FB, FT, or applicant in either category, a pattern of exchange disciplinary actions alleging serious rule violations that result in significant sanctions will trigger the “other good cause” provision of Section 8a(3)(M). The “pattern” should consist of at least two final exchange disciplinary actions, whether settled or adjudicated.
NFA also should consider initiating proceedings to affect the registration of the FB or FT, even if there is only a single exchange action against the FB or FT, if the exchange action was based on allegations of particularly egregious misconduct or involved numerous instances of misconduct occurring over a long period of time. If, however, a proceeding is initiated based on a single exchange action that was disposed of by settlement, NFA may have to prove up the underlying misconduct. Furthermore, traditional principles of collateral estoppel apply to adjudicated actions, whether they are being considered individually or as part of a pattern. 7

Footnote(s):
7 Clark at 44,929.

As provided by the Guidance Letter, “exchange disciplinary actions” would continue to include disciplinary actions taken by both futures industry SROs and SROs as defined in Section 3(a)(26) of the 1934 Exchange Act. Furthermore, NFA should review an applicant's or registrant's disciplinary history for the past five years. 8 At least one of the actions forming the pattern, however, must have become final after Clark was decided by the Commission on April 22, 1997. Finally, “serious rule violations” consist of, or are substantially related to, charges of fraud, customer abuse, other illicit trading practices, or the obstruction of an exchange investigation.

Footnote(s):
8 The Commission generally looked at a five-year period of disciplinary history. On occasion, however, the Commission examined a longer period of an applicant's or registrant's disciplinary history. For example, the Commission revoked the registration of one FB on the basis of exchange disciplinary cases that extended back six years, see Clark, 2 Comm. Fut. L. Rep. (CCH) ¶ 27,032, and denied an application for registration as an FT on the basis of exchange disciplinary cases that extended back seven years, see In the Matter of Castellano, [1987-1990 Transfer Binder] Comm. Fut. L. Rep. (CCH) ¶ 24,360 (Nov. 23, 1988), summarily aff'd (May 29, 1990), reh. denied [1990-1992 Transfer Binder] Comm. Fut. L. Rep. ¶ 24,870 (June 26, 1990), aff'd sub nom. Castellano v. CFTC, Docket No. 90-2298 (7th Cir. Nov. 20, 1991).

Congress, the courts and the Commission have indicated the importance of considering an applicant's history of exchange disciplinary actions in assessing that person's fitness to register. 9 Furthermore, NFA's review of exchange disciplinary actions within the context of the registration process should not simply mirror the disciplinary actions undertaken by the exchanges. The two processes are separate matters that involve separate considerations. As part of their ongoing self-regulatory obligations, exchanges must take disciplinary action 10 and such disciplinary matters necessarily focus on the specific misconduct that forms the allegation. In a statutory disqualification action, however, NFA must determine whether the disciplinary history of an FB, FT or applicant over the preceding five years should impact his or her registration. Additionally, NFA possesses industry-wide perspective and responsibilities. As such, NFA, rather than an individual exchange, should decide registration status issues, since those issues affect an individual's status within the industry as a whole, well beyond the jurisdiction of a particular exchange.

Footnote(s):
9 Letter dated July 14, 1995, from Mary L. Schapiro to R. Patrick Thompson, President, New York Mercantile Exchange (unpublished). See also Castellano, supra note 8.


Footnote(s):
10 See Rule 1.51(a)(7).

The Commission also wants to clarify to the fullest extent possible that its power to delegate the authority to deny or condition the registration of an FB, FT, or an applicant for registration in either category permits exchanges to disclose to NFA all evidence underlying exchange disciplinary actions, notwithstanding the language of Section 8c(a)(2) of the Act. 11 The Commission's power to delegate stems from Section 8a(10) of the Act, which permits delegation of registration functions, including statutory disqualification actions, to any person in accordance with rules adopted by such person and submitted to the Commission for approval or for review under Section 17(j) of the Act, “notwithstanding any other provision of law.” Certainly, Section 8c(a)(2) qualifies as “any other provision of law.” Furthermore, the effective discharge of the delegated function requires NFA to have access to the exchange evidence. Thus, the exercise of the delegated authority pursuant to Section 8a(10) permits the exchanges to disclose all evidence underlying disciplinary actions to NFA. 12

Footnote(s):
11Section 8c(a)(2) states, in relevant part, that “[A]n exchange * * * shall not disclose the evidence therefor, except to the person who is suspended, expelled, disciplined, or denied access, and to the Commission.”


Footnote(s):
12 Of course, the Commission could request records from the exchange and forward them to NFA. The Commission believes that this is an unnecessary administrative process and that NFA should obtain the records it needs to carry out the delegated function of conducting disciplinary history reviews directly from the exchanges. In this context and pursuant to Commission orders authorizing NFA to institute adverse registration actions, NFA should be viewed as standing in the shoes of the Commission.

This letter supersedes the Guidance Letter to the extent discussed above. In all other aspects, the Guidance Letter and other guidance provided by the Commission or its staff remain in effect. Therefore, NFA should continue to follow Commission precedent when selecting conditions or restrictions to be imposed. For example, NFA should impose a dual trading ban where customer abuse is involved and any conditions or restrictions imposed should be for a two-year period. Furthermore, NFA should require sponsorship for conditioned FBs or FTs when their disciplinary offenses involve noncompetitive trading and fraud.
Nothing in the Notice and Order or this letter affects the Commission's authority to review the granting of a registration application by NFA in the performance of Commission registration functions, including review of the sufficiency of conditions or restrictions imposed by NFA, to review the determination by NFA not to take action to affect an existing registration, or to take its own action to address a statutory disqualification. Moreover, the Commission Order contemplates that to allow for appropriate Commission oversight of NFA's exercise of this delegated authority, NFA will provide for the Commission's review quarterly schedules of all applicants cleared for registration and all registrants whose registrations are maintained without adverse action by NFA's Registration, Compliance, Legal Committee despite potential statutory disqualifications.
The Commission will continue to monitor NFA activities through periodic rule enforcement reviews, and NFA remains subject to the present requirement that it monitor compliance with the conditions and restrictions imposed on conditioned and restricted registrants.
Sincerely,
Jean A. Webb,
Secretary of the Commission.
[49 FR 8224, Mar. 5, 1984, as amended at 58 FR 19597, Apr. 15, 1993; 59 FR 5315, Feb. 4, 1994; 61 FR 58628, Nov. 18, 1996; 66 FR 53518, Oct. 23, 2001; 67 FR 62352, Oct. 7, 2002; 78 FR 22419, Apr. 16, 2013]

Title 17 published on 2014-04-01

no entries appear in the Federal Register after this date.