31 CFR Appendix A to Part 357, Discussion of Final Rule
Twenty-four written comments were received to the notice of proposed rulemaking from various sources, including Federal agencies, trade associations, as well as financial and commercial investment institutions. With the exception of one bank, all commentators endorsed the concept of a certificateless security.
The grouping and identification of the comments received have been made on a section-by-section basis, with an explanation of the action taken with respect thereto. As circumstances necessitated the publication of the rule in two segments, in order to make each part more understandable, certain definitions, such as those for “Department” and “securities”, have appeared in the proposed rule for both Legacy Treasury Direct ® and TRADES, and were slightly modified in the proposed rules on TRADES. Because these modifications represent non-substantive clarifications, and to avoid confusion as between the two portions of the rules, the definitions as used in TRADES have been adopted.
The forms of registrations provided for securities to be held in Legacy Treasury Direct have different legal effect from those currently provided for in the case of definitive Treasury securities and for the Treasury's book-entry Treasury bill system. A comment was received that, as a result, this could lead to some confusion, and that the Treasury bill forms of recordation currently offered should be changed, particularly since Treasury bills will be phased into Legacy Treasury Direct gradually. The Bureau believes that the benefits of uniformity of rights and interests that Legacy Treasury Direct investors will derive far outweigh any possible confusion. As for confusion with the current Treasury bill book-entry system, given the fact that Treasury bills have a term of not more than a year, it is believed that the problem, if any, will be short-lived.
Given the importance of the change that Legacy Treasury Direct provides as to registration, the discussion thereof that accompanied the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is re-published below.
“Forms of Registration. The proposed rule provides the investor with a variety of registration options. They are essentially similar to those provided for registered, definitive marketable Treasury securities. Investors should be particularly aware that, where the security is held in the names of two individuals, the registration chosen may establish rights of survivorship.
“The reason for establishing the rights of ownership for securities held in Legacy Treasury Direct is that it will give investors the assurance that the forms of registration they select will establish conclusively the rights to their book-entry securities. It will also serve to eliminate some of the uncertainties, as well as possible conflicts, between the varying laws of the several States.
“A Federal rule of ownership is being adopted by the Treasury for Legacy Treasury Direct securities. This regulatory approach is consistent with the one previously taken in the case of United States Savings Bonds. It will have the effect of overriding inconsistent State laws. See, Free v. Bland, 369 U.S. 663 (1962).
“In the case of individuals (who are likely to be by far the majority of holders of securities in Legacy Treasury Direct), the options offered will permit virtually all the preferred forms of ownership. At the investor's option, it will be possible to provide for the disposition of the securities upon death through rights of survivorship.
“Coownership registration. One option is the coownership form of registration, i.e., “A or B.” Unlike the current Treasury bill book-entry system being administered by the Bureau of the Fiscal Service, a security held in Legacy Treasury Direct registered in this form will be transferable upon the written request of either coowner. Other changes in the account may also be made upon the request of either party. While this form of registration will facilitate the receipt of payments and provide ease in conducting transactions, care should obviously be exercised in designating a coowner.
“Joint ownership. For those who would prefer to have the transferability of a security held in two names contingent upon the request of both, the joint form of registration will be appropriate. This form of registration, i.e., “A and B, with [without] the right of survivorship,” will require the agreement of both parties to conduct any authorized transaction.
“Beneficiary form. The beneficiary form, i.e., “A payable on death to (POD) B,” will permit the owner to have sole control of the account during his/her lifetime, but in the event of death, the account will pass by right of survivorship to the beneficiary.”
One commentator questioned the “natural guardian” and “voluntary guardian” forms of registration provided in the regulations, pointing out that financial institutions are reluctant to establish an account in the name of a natural guardian of a minor because of the uncertainties as to who might be entitled to the funds on the death of the natural guardian or minor, or when the minor reached majority. It was mentioned that a bank would be reluctant to open an account in the name of a voluntary guardian, or to release funds from an existing account to a voluntary guardian because of the potential risk in the event of a claim from a court-appointed guardian. It seems apparent that the comment was prompted by the provision that appeared in the proposed rule that the account held in Legacy Treasury Direct and the deposit account to which payments are to be directed should be in the same form. As hereafter pointed out in the discussion under the payment section, this is not a requirement.
While parents are universally recognized as the natural guardians of the person of minors, they have generally not been recognized as entitled to control the estates of these minors, except perhaps in the case of small amounts. Traditionally, the guardian of the estate of a minor involves judicial appointment and supervision. In order to provide a means of dealing with the problem of disposing of securities inadvertently registered in the name of minors without requiring the appointment of a legal guardian and to provide a means for investing funds of a minor, which did not technically qualify for investment under the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act, the Department decided to provide recognition for natural guardians.
The voluntary guardianship procedure is wholly a creature of the Department's regulations. It was established in recognition of the burden placed on an incompetent's estate and his/her family by requiring the appointment of a legal guardian to receive the interest on, or to redeem securities for, the account of an individual who has become incompetent, at least where the incompetent's estate is relatively modest. This form of registration is not available on original issue and is limited to an aggregate of $20,000 (par amount) of Legacy Treasury Direct securities. The $20,000 limit in connection with the use of the voluntary guardianship procedure is in keeping with the limits used in connection with the summary administration of decedents' estates under the laws of many States.
No comments were received regarding the provisions on judicial proceedings. Given their importance, the discussion that accompanied the publication thereof in proposed form is included here.
Judicial proceedings. Under the principle of sovereign immunity, neither the Department nor a Federal Reserve Bank, acting as fiscal agent of the United States, will recognize a court order that attempts to restrain or enjoin the Department or a Federal Reserve Bank from making payment on a security or from disposing of a security in accordance with instructions of the owner as shown on the Department's records.
“The Department will recognize a final court order affecting ownership rights in Legacy Treasury Direct securities provided that the order is consistent with the provisions of subpart C and the terms and conditions of the security, and the appropriate evidence, as described in § 357.23(c), is supplied to the Department. For example, the Department may recognize final orders arising from divorce or dissolution of marriage, creditor or probate proceedings, or cases involving application of a State slayer's act. The Department will also recognize a transaction request submitted by a person appointed by a court and having authority under an order of a court to dispose of the security or payment with respect thereto, provided conditions similar to those above are met.”
Legacy Treasury Direct is not designed to reflect or handle the various types of security interests that may arise in connection with a Treasury bond, note or bill. However, the Treasury has from time to time and to a limited extent held in safekeeping, for such agencies as the Customs Service and Immigration and Naturalization Service, Treasury securities submitted in lieu of surety bonds in accordance with 31 U.S.C. 9303. While the Federal Reserve Banks handle the majority of such pledges and will continue to do so, as this statute requires the Treasury to accept these Government obligations so pledged, a provision has been added for accepting and holding book-entry securities submitted for such purposes.
(a)General. Most comments focused on the provisions on payments. A key feature of Legacy Treasury Direct will be the making of payments by the direct deposit method (also known as the electronic funds transfer or ACH method). Checks will be issued only under extraordinary circumstances. A number of comments endorsed the concept of payment by direct deposit as an improvement given the difficulties associated with checks.
One comment expressed concern as to who would have the burden of resolving errors in cases where a receiving financial institution fails to properly credit a payment. The Department has concluded that while the direct deposit payment method is not without risks, it is far superior to the use of checks, in terms of the risks, potential losses, and costs. In a case where a receiving institution fails to act in accordance with the instructions given it, the Bureau intends to use its best efforts to assist investors in rectifying the error.
(b)Direct deposit. A number of comments expressed the view that the Legacy Treasury Direct payment system should adopt either the rules governing the direct deposit of Government payments ( 31 CFR part 210), or the rules of the National Automated Clearing House Association (“NACHA Rules”), but not separate rules. The final rules have adopted some of the existing practices applicable to commercial ACH payments, but it is not possible for the Department of the Treasury to conform to all of these rules. For example, the Treasury has no authority to indemnify recipients of direct deposit payments, although such indemnification by a sender is contemplated in the NACHA rules and was advocated in several comments. It should also be noted that the rules applicable to Legacy Treasury Direct payments are modeled, to some extent, on the rules for Government direct deposit payments in order to take advantage of the large number of entities that are a part of the Government direct deposit network. See the discussion under paragraph (b)(2). Where there are unique rules applicable to Legacy Treasury Direct, however, they are explained here.
Given the variance between the procedures set out in the proposed rules and existing practice, and the increased burdens resulting therefrom, several clearing house associations and financial institutions requested that the implementation of Legacy Treasury Direct be delayed from July 1986 to July 1987. The Treasury is satisfied that the added burdens that would have been imposed on financial institutions to receive Legacy Treasury Direct payments under the proposed rules have been effectively eliminated in the final rule. Thus, Treasury plans to implement the system on or about the original target date. The final rules are being published, however, in advance of actual implementation so as to give financial institutions an opportunity to make whatever remaining, minor procedural changes as may be necessary.
(1)Information on deposit account at financial institution. The proposed regulations provided that the owner of a security in Legacy Treasury Direct, or in the case of ownership by two individuals, the first-named owner, must be an owner of, and so designated, on the account at the receiving financial institution. The regulations also provided that in any case in which a security is held jointly or with right of survivorship, the account at the financial institution should be established in a form that assures that the rights of each joint owner or survivor will be preserved.
The rule requiring the naming of the first-named owner on the receiving financial institution account was based on tax reporting considerations. It has now been determined that the first-named security owner need not be named on the receiving deposit account.
The rule relating to establishment of the receiving account in joint ownership cases in the same form as the registration of the security was intended to be a notice to investors of a potential problem, rather than a requirement. In cases where an investor intends a beneficiary, joint owner or coowner to receive securities after the investor's death, this intention may be defeated if the recipient is not also named on the receiving deposit account. It is up to the investor to examine his or her particular circumstances and determine whether the form in which the deposit account will be held is satisfactory. This matter has been clarified in paragraph (b)(1)(v) of the final rule. Except for the restriction described in paragraph (b)(1)(ii) (see below), the Treasury does not intend to establish any limitations on how the receiving deposit account is held.
Several comments addressed the issue of the registration of the security versus the title of the deposit account. Two comments pointed out that if the deposit account must be in the same form as the registration of the security, then existing traditional forms of ownership for bank accounts, which do not include all the forms of registration for securities held in Legacy Treasury Direct, would not suffice. Concerns were also expressed that with multiple forms of ownership, financial institutions could become involved in disputes with investors. As noted above, there is no requirement that the Legacy Treasury Direct account and the deposit account be identical. The responsibility to choose the title of the deposit account rests with the investor.
Another comment objected to the rule that the first-named security owner be named on the receiving deposit account because the rule would eliminate the possibility of payment to an account at a financial institution in the name of a mutual fund, security dealer, or insurance company. Although the change in the tax reporting rule described above permits payment to such accounts, as well as to trust accounts, since it appears that there is a question as to the capability of some receiving institutions to handle such payments, investors are strongly urged to consult their financial institution before requesting such payment arrangements. See paragraph (b)(1)(iii).
It should be emphasized that any payments that must be made by check will be made in the form in which the Legacy Treasury Direct account is held, which may be different than the form of the deposit account. Investors should be aware that this may result in checks being issued, and thus payment being made, in a form different than they intended the direct deposit payments to be made. For example, if Investor A purchases a security in his or her name alone with instructions that payments be directed to a financial institution for the account of a money market fund, any checks that must be issued will be drawn in the name of Investor A. This could happen if Investor A furnishes erroneous payment instructions and the problem cannot be resolved before a payment date, in which case a check would be issued.
The one restriction on the form of the deposit account that appears in paragraph (b)(1)(ii) of the final regulations is a rule that where the Legacy Treasury Direct account is in the name of individual(s), and the receiving deposit account is also in the name of individual(s), one of the individuals on the Legacy Treasury Direct account must be named on the deposit account. This rule is intended to provide a means to determine the disposition of the payment, if necessary. The Treasury does not expect financial institutions to monitor this rule.
Provision has been made in paragraph (b)(1)(vii) to permit financial institutions to request “mass changes” of deposit account numbers without the submission of individual requests from investors to Legacy Treasury Direct. This procedure is intended for use where an institution changes all or an entire group of its account numbers, typically as a result of an organizational change. Legacy Treasury Direct will honor requests from a financial institution to change deposit account numbers under such circumstances, with the understanding that the institution agrees to indemnify the Treasury and the security owners for any losses resulting from errors made by the institution. If the institutions does not wish to use the “mass change” procedure, then the change in account number must be requested by the investor, using the authorized transaction request form. See § 357.28.
Some institutions voiced concern in general about investor errors in furnishing the Legacy Treasury Direct a deposit account number and the financial institution's routing number. Although the Treasury plans to provide as much assistance to investors as possible, the investor must bear the responsibility for securing accurate payment information. Investors are urged to consult with their receiving institution to verify the accuracy of the payment information, since neither the Treasury nor the receiving financial institution would be responsible for payment errors resulting from erroneous information provided by investors.
The proposed rule provided in § 357.26(b)(1)(iii) that the designation of a financial institution by a security owner to receive payments from Legacy Treasury Direct would constitute the appointment of the financial institution as agent for the owner for the receipt of payments. The crediting of a payment to the financial institution for deposit to the owner's account, in accordance with the owner's instructions, would discharge the United States of any further responsibility for the payment. One comment noted that, in contrast, the rule in 31 CFR 210.13 for Federal recurring payments is that the United States is not acquitted until the payment is credited to the account of the recipient on the books of a financial institution.
Although, in principle, the same rules should apply to all Government payments, the proposed Legacy Treasury Direct rule has been retained in the final regulations on the basis of the major differences in the procedures to be used in Legacy Treasury Direct. Most significantly, the Treasury will not be securing any written verification (i.e., an enrollment form) from a financial institution as to the accuracy of the deposit account number and other payment information, as is now the practice in the case of payments under 31 CFR part 210. Under these circumstances, the Treasury cannot, in effect, guarantee that a payment will be credited by a financial institution to the correct account. It should also be noted that this rule on acquittance of the United States is consistent with the provision in § 357.10(c) of the proposed regulations on TRADES. In practice, however, the Treasury plans to participate actively in seeking to locate and recover any payments that have been misdirected.
(2)Agreement of financial institution. The proposed rule provided, in § 357.26(b)(2), that a financial institution which has agreed to accept payments under 31 CFR part 210 shall be deemed to have agreed to accept payments from Legacy Treasury Direct. The rule further provided that an institution could not be designated to receive Legacy Treasury Direct payments unless it had agreed to accept direct deposit payments under 31 CFR part 210.
One financial institution commented that a receiving institution that has already agreed to accept part 210 payments should have the choice as to whether to accept payments from Legacy Treasury Direct. The basis for this comment was the perception that the receipt of Legacy Treasury Direct payments would require the implementation of special procedures by the financial institution and expose it to additional risks. As explained earlier, the Treasury has significantly modified the procedures and reduced the requirements imposed upon a financial institution in order to receive Legacy Treasury Direct payments, and decreased as well the risks an institution will incur in the receipt of such payments. Thus, the proposed rule on eligibility of receiving institutions has been retained in the final rule in essentially the same form.
Two other comments were made to the effect that the category of institutions receiving payments should be broadened. In deciding to authorize payments to all institutions receiving part 210 payments, the Treasury considered the fact that many more institutions are designated endpoints for Government (direct deposit) payments than for commercial ACH payments. In order to afford investors the widest choice of recipient institutions, all institutions that had agreed to accept part 210 payments were designated as authorized recipients. Treasury has now broadened the rule further to also authorize those financial institutions that are willing to agree to accept part 210 payments in the future. This rule will permit investors to designate institutions that are not now receiving Government direct deposit payments as the recipients of their Legacy Treasury Direct payments if the institutions make appropriate arrangements with the Federal Reserve Bank of their District.
(3)Pre-notification. A significant feature of the Legacy Treasury Direct payment procedure will be the use of a pre-notification message sent to the receiving financial institution in advance of the first payment. This procedure, already in use for commercial ACH payments, alerts the institution that a payment will be made and provides an opportunity for verification of the accuracy of the account information.
The proposed regulations provided that the financial institution would be required to reject the pre-notification message within four calendar days after the date of receipt if the information contained in the message did not agree with the records of the institution or if for any other reason the institution would not be able to credit the payment. The rules also stated that a failure to reject the message within the specified time period would be deemed an acceptance of the pre-notification and a warranty that the information in the message was accurate.
Because there was some confusion over when the pre-notification message woud be sent, the final rules clarify, in paragraph (b)(3)(i), that in most cases, this will occur shortly after establishment of a Legacy Treasury Direct account. The Treasury has under consideration a system change that would permit a second pre-notification to be sent closer to the time of the payment if the first payment is to occur a substantial length of time after account establishment.
One of the items of information contained in a pre-notification message is the name the investor has indicated appears on the deposit account. Comments were received that existing procedures and software do not permit automatic verification of the account name. Although there is apparently some variation in practice, and some institutions undertake to verify the account name information manually, the Treasury has decided to drop the account name verification requirement in the final rules. This means that under paragraph (b)(3)(ii), a financial institution need only verify the account number and type designations on the pre-notification message. However, the Treasury urges institutions which are able to verify account names to do so and encourages the development of software that would have this capability.
A number of comments urged that the four-day period provided for an institution to reject a pre-notification message be lengthened. After consideration of the various alternatives proposed, the Treasury has concluded that an eight-day period will meet the needs of most institutions. See paragraph (b)(3)(ii) of the final rule. In responding to a pre-notification message, an institution may use the NACHA's “notification of change” procedure, standardized automated rejection codes, or any other similar standard procedure. Upon receipt of such notification, the Treasury will either make the necessary changes in the Legacy Treasury Direct account or contact the investor, depending on the circumstances.
One commentator objected to the warranty by the receiving institution as to the accuracy of the pre-notification information, particularly in view of the manual verification or changes in procedures that would be required, and the resulting possibility of error. As previously noted, the requirement to verify an account name has been eliminated. In addition, language has been added to make it clear that the verification is limited to the time of pre-notification. The Treasury is of the view that the warranty is a useful concept in encouraging institutions to respond to pre-notification messages and will benefit all concerned by increasing the likelihood that payments will be made accurately and to the appropriate party.
(5)Responsibility of financial institution. The proposed regulations provided, in § 357.26(b)(5)(ii), that a financial institution that receives a Legacy Treasury Direct payment on behalf of a customer would be required to promptly notify the Treasury when it has made a change in the status or ownership of the customer's deposit account, such as the deletion of the first-named owner of the security from the title of the account, or when the institution is on notice of the death or incompetency of the owner of the deposit account.
Several financial institutions objected to this requirement on the grounds that it would be burdensome and would require the development of new procedures to monitor the changes in deposit accounts. Specifically, several institutions indicated they would be unable to relate the receipt of Legacy Treasury Direct payments, which would be handled in a centralized area of the institution, to the changes being made in a deposit account, which are handled in another operational area of the institution. These institutions said they would not necessarily be aware of who is the first-named owner of the security in Legacy Treasury Direct, and that more responsibility should be placed on the security owner in reporting changes.
In response to these comments, the Treasury has narrowed the notification rule, in paragraph (b)(5)(ii) of the final rule, to require a financial institution to notify Legacy Treasury Direct only in cases where it is on notice of the death or legal incapacity of an individual named on the deposit account, or where it is on notice of the dissolution of a corporation named in the deposit account. Upon receipt of notice by the area of the institution that receives credit payments, the institution will be required to return any Legacy Treasury Direct payments received thereafter.
(6)Payments in error/duplicate payments. The proposed regulations, in § 357.26(b)(6), set out rules describing the procedure that would be followed in cases where the Treasury or a Federal Reserve Bank has made a duplicate payment or a payment in error. First, the financial institution to which the payment was directed would be provided with a notice asking for the return of the amount of the payment remaining in the deposit account. If the financial institution were unable to return any part of the payment, it would be required to notify the Treasury or its Federal Reserve Bank, and provide the names and addresses of the persons who withdrew funds from the deposit account after the date of the duplicate payment or the payment in error. If the financial institution did not respond to the notice within 30 days, the financial institution's account at its Federal Reserve Bank could be debited in the amount of the duplicate or improper payment.
Several institutions raised objections about various aspects of the above procedures. One stated that 30 days was an insufficient time to respond and urged conformity with the rules in 31 CFR part 210 permitting a 60-day response time. Some objected to furnishing information about the persons who withdrew money from an account. Several objected in principle to the provision authorizing the debiting of their accounts. Several comments indicated that if a payment is returned by a financial institution using an automated payment reversal procedure, then only the full amount of the payment (not a partial amount) can be reversed.
In the final rule, the Treasury has clarified the procedures. The requirement to provide the names of persons who withdrew funds from an account has been changed. In paragraph (b)(6)(i), financial institutions are asked to provide only such information as they have about the matter. The debiting of an institution's account at a Federal Reserve Bank is intended to be simply a last resort if the institution fails totally to respond to the notice of a duplicate payment or payment made in error. See paragraph (b)(6)(iii). The time provided for response to this notice has been lengthened to 60 days.
The final rule has also been clarified in paragraph (b)(6)(i) to provide that the amount that should be returned is an amount equal to the payment. The Treasury reserves the right, however, to request the return by other than automated means of a partial amount of a payment made in error. It is anticipated that such a procedure would occur only if the notice of a payment made in error is not issued immediately after the payment was made.
(d)Handling of payments by Federal Reserve Banks. Some of the comments raised a question about the liability of the Federal Reserve Banks in making payments. The proposed rule, in § 357.26(d)(2), provided that each Federal Reserve Bank would be responsible only to the Department and would not be liable to any other party for any loss resulting from its handling of payments. This rule was taken from the existing regulations in 31 CFR part 210 (see § 210.3(f)), and is simply a restatement of existing law.
In making payments, the Federal Reserve Banks are acting in the capacity as fiscal agents of the United States, pursuant to 12 U.S.C. 391. They are not acting in an individual (banking) capacity. If a Federal Reserve Bank misdirects a payment contrary to instructions provided by the investor, the United States, as principal, may remain liable to the investor for the payment. The United States could seek to recover any loss from its agent, the Fedeal Reserve Bank. However, because the proposed rule simply stated a legal conclusion and tended to create the impression that the rule was broader than intended, it has been omitted from the final regulations.
For clarity, the warranties which accompany the use of a “Signature guaranteed” stamp have been set out.
This section has been deleted. The same subject-matter will be covered in § 357.1, as finally adopted.
This section was published as § 357.42 in the notice of proposed rulemaking for TRADES. The final version will be published after all the comments on the rulemaking for TRADES have been reviewed and considered.
Provision for “charges and fees for services and maintenance of book-entry Treasury securities” has been added in the event circumstances should dictate their imposition.