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Notice 1999-30 - Informational Notice
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Notice 1999-28 - Informational Notice
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Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Letters
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Municipal Finance Professional: Supervisor
Rule Number:

Rule G-37

Municipal finance professional: supervisor.  This is in response to your inquiry seeking guidance regarding the possible classification as a municipal finance professional under rule G-37 of a Taxable Department Head at your firm. You stated that the Taxable Department Head is the direct supervisor of a Branch Manager and this Branch Manager manages a sales representative who has solicited municipal securities business from an issuer. You state that it is clear that the Branch Manager and the sales representative are both municipal finance professionals. However, you further state that the Taxable Department Head has delegated all Public Finance/Municipal oversight responsibilities to the Public Finance Department Head for the Taxable Department Head's personnel. You ask whether, under these circumstances, the Taxable Department Head would be considered a municipal finance professional under rule G-37 as a result of his or her supervisory position.

The term "municipal finance professional" is defined in rule G-37(g)(iv). Clauses (C) and (D) of the definition set forth the basis for considering an associated person of a dealer to be a municipal finance professional as a result of his or her supervisory position. Clause (C) includes any associated person who is both (i) either a municipal securities principal or municipal securities sales principal and (ii) a supervisor of any associated person either primarily engaged in municipal securities representative activities or who solicits municipal securities business (referred to herein as a "primary municipal securities supervisor"). Clause (D) includes any associated person who is a supervisor of a primary municipal securities supervisor up through and including (in the case of a non-bank dealer) the Chief Executive Officer or similarly situation official (referred to herein as a "secondary municipal securities supervisor").

Unlike in the case of a primary municipal securities supervisor, a secondary municipal securities supervisor is not required to be a municipal securities principal or municipal securities sales principal. The status of a secondary municipal securities supervisor as a municipal finance professional is not conditioned on the areas in which such supervisor has responsibility over a primary municipal securities supervisor, so long as such secondary municipal securities supervisor retains some degree of supervisory responsibility (whether or not relating to municipal securities activities) over the primary municipal securities supervisor.  MSRB interpretation of November 23, 1999.

Notice 1999-27 - Informational Notice
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Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Letters
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Financial Advisory Relationship: Private Placements

Financial advisory relationship: private placements. This is in response to your letter in which you seek clarification on certain matters related to rules G-23, on activities of financial advisors, and G-37, on political contributions and prohibitions on municipal securities business.

You ask when it is "necessary in the process of commencing preliminary work with a potential financial advisory client to enter into a formal written financial advisory contract." Rule G-23(c) states that "[e]ach financial advisory relationship shall be evidenced by a writing entered into prior to, upon or promptly after the inception of the financial advisory relationship (or promptly after the creation or selection of the issuer if the issuer does not exist or has not been determined at the time the relationship commences)." Rule G-23(b) states that "...a financial advisory relationship shall be deemed to exist when a broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer renders or enters into an agreement to render financial advisory or consultant services to or on behalf of an issuer with respect to a new issue or issues of municipal securities, including advice with respect to the structure, timing, terms and other similar matters concerning such issue or issues, for a fee or other compensation or in expectation of such compensation for the rendering of such services."

You ask whether you are to advise the Board by means of reporting on Form G-37/G-38 or by any other means when you commence work on subsequent financing transactions with an issuer with which your firm has an ongoing financial advisory contract. The Instructions for Completing and Filing Form G-37/G-38 provide a guideline to use in determining when to report financial advisory services on Form G-37/G-38.[1] Pursuant to these Instructions, dealers should indicate financial advisory services when an agreement is reached to provide the services. In addition, the Instructions note that dealers also should indicate financial advisory services during a reporting period when the settlement date for a new issue on which the dealer acted as financial advisor occurred during such period. There are no other requirements for reporting financial advisory services to the Board.

Finally, you ask whether rules G-23 or G-37 contain requirements concerning private placement activities. The term "municipal securities business" is defined in rule G-37 to include "the offer or sale of a primary offering of municipal securities on behalf of any issuer ( e.g. , private placement)..." The Instructions for Completing and Filing Form G-37/G-38 provide that private placements should be indicated at least by the settlement date if within the reporting period.

With respect to rule G-23, section (d) of the rule states that no dealer that has a financial advisory relationship with respect to a new issue of municipal securities shall acquire as principal either alone or as a participant in a syndicate or other similar account formed for the purpose of purchasing, directly or indirectly, from the issuer all or any portion of such issue, or act as agent for the issuer in arranging the placement of such issue, unless various actions are taken.[2] In addition, rule G-23(g) states that each dealer subject to the provisions of sections (d), (e) or (f) of rule G-23 shall maintain a copy of the written disclosures, acknowledgments and consents required by these sections in a separate file and in accordance with the provisions of rule G-9, on preservation of records. Finally, rule G-23(h) states that, if a dealer acquires new issue municipal securities or participates in a syndicate or other account that acquires new issue municipal securities in accordance with section (d) of rule G-23, such dealer shall disclose the existence of the financial advisory relationship in writing to each customer who purchases such securities from such dealer, at or before the completion of the transaction with the customer. MSRB interpretation of October 5, 1999.

[1] I have enclosed a copy of the Instructions for Completing and Filing Form G-37/G-38 as contained in the MSRB Rule Book. The instructions are also contained on the Board's web site (www.msrb.org) under the link for rule G-37.

[2] These actions are: (i) if such issue is to be sold by the issuer on a negotiated basis, (A) the financial advisory relationship with respect to such issue has been terminated in writing and at or after such termination the issuer has expressly consented in writing to such acquisition or participation, as principal or agent, in the purchase of the securities on a negotiated basis; (B) the dealer has expressly disclosed in writing to the issuer at or before such termination that there may be a conflict of interest in changing from the capacity of financial advisor to purchaser of or placement agent for the securities with respect to which the financial advisory relationship exists and the issuer has expressly acknowledged in writing to the dealer receipt of such disclosure; and (C) the dealer has expressly disclosed in writing to the issuer at or before such termination the source and anticipated amount of all remuneration to the dealer with respect to such issue in addition to the compensation referred to in section (c) of rule G-23, and the issuer has expressly acknowledged in writing to the dealer receipt of such disclosure; or (ii) if such issue is to be sold by the issuer at competitive bid, the issuer has expressly consented in writing prior to the bid to such acquisition or participation.

Notice 1999-26 - Informational Notice
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Information for:

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Notice 1999-25 - Informational Notice
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Notice 1999-24 - Informational Notice
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Notice 1999-23 - Informational Notice
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Notice 1999-22 - Informational Notice
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Notice 1999-20 - Informational Notice
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Notice 1999-21 - Informational Notice
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Notice 1999-19 - Informational Notice
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Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Letters
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Solicitation of Contributions
Rule Number:

Rule G-37

Solicitation of contributions.  This is in response to your letter in which you summarize your understanding of our telephone conversation relating to section (c) of rule G-37, on political contributions and prohibitions on municipal securities business. As I noted during our conversation, the Board’s rules, including rule G-37, apply solely to brokers, dealers and municipal securities dealers (“dealers”). The Board’s rulemaking authority, granted under Section 15B of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, does not extend to issuers of municipal securities. Thus, rule G-37 does not impose any obligations upon issuers or officials of issuers. Although the Board appreciates your interest in not placing dealers and their associated persons in a position to violate their obligations under the rule, it is ultimately the responsibility of such dealers and associated persons, in consultation with appropriate compliance personnel, to ensure compliance with Board rules.

As you know, rule G-37(c) provides that no dealer or municipal finance professional shall solicit any person or political action committee to make any contribution, or shall coordinate any contributions, to an official of an issuer with which the dealer is engaging or is seeking to engage in municipal securities business. The Board has previously stated that this provision would:

prohibit a dealer and any municipal finance professional from soliciting . . . any other person or entity, to make contributions to an official of an issuer with which the dealer engages or is seeking to engage in municipal securities business or to coordinate (i.e., bundle) contributions. . .[*] [M]unicipal finance professionals may volunteer their personal services in other ways to political campaigns.[1]

You had sought guidance regarding what activities would be covered by this provision of the rule. As you noted in your letter, I had indicated that the term “solicit” is not explicitly defined for purposes of section (c) of the rule. I had stated that whether a particular activity can be characterized as a solicitation of a contribution for purposes of section (c) is dependent upon the facts and circumstances surrounding such activity. I had noted, however, that the rule does not prohibit or restrict municipal finance professionals from engaging in personal volunteer work, unless such work constituted solicitation or bundling of contributions for an official of an issuer with which the municipal finance professional’s dealer is engaging or seeking to engage in municipal securities business[2] Municipal finance professionals are therefore free to, among other things, solicit votes or other assistance for such an issuer official so long as the solicitation does not constitute a solicitation or coordination of contributions for the official. [3]

 

Whether a municipal finance professional is permitted by section (c) of the rule to indicate to third parties that someone is a “great candidate” or to provide a list of third parties for the candidate to call would be dependent upon all the facts and circumstances surrounding such action. The facts and circumstances that may be relevant for this purpose may include, among any number of other factors, whether the municipal finance professional has made an explicit or implicit reference to campaign contributions in his or her conversations with third parties whom the candidate may contact and whether the candidate contacts such third parties seeking campaign contributions. However, the totality of the facts and circumstances surrounding any particular activity must be considered in determining whether such activity may constitute a solicitation of contributions for purposes of section (c) of the rule. Therefore, the Board cannot prescribe an exhaustive list of precautions that would assure that no violation of this section would occur as a result of such activity.  MSRB interpretation of May 21, 1999.
__________

[1] MSRB Reports, Vol. 14, No. 3 (June 1994) at 5. See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 33868 (April 7, 1994), 59 FR 17621 (April 13, 1994). See also Questions and Answers Concerning Political Contributions and Prohibitions on Municipal Securities Business: Rule G-37, May 24, 1994, reprinted in MSRB Rule Book; MSRB Interpretation of November 7, 1994, reprinted in MSRB Rule Book; MSRB Interpretation of May 31, 1995, reprinted in MSRB Rule Book. Furthermore, the Board stated in its filing of the rule with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the rule’s “anti-solicitation and anti-bundling proscriptions are intended to prohibit covered parties from: (i) soliciting others, including spouses and family members, to make contributions to issuer officials; and (ii) coordinating, or soliciting others to coordinate, contributions to issuer officials in order to influence the awarding of municipal securities business.” SEC File No. SR-MSRB-94-2.

[2] See Question and Answer No. 24, May 24, 1994, reprinted in MSRB Rule Book; Question and Answer No. 3, August 18, 1994, reprinted in MSRB Rule Book. In addition, if the municipal finance professional used dealer resources or incurred expenses that could be considered contributions in the course of undertaking such volunteer work, the ban on municipal securities business under section (b) of the rule could be triggered.

 

[3] In upholding the constitutionality of rule G-37, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit observed that “municipal finance professionals are not in any way restricted from engaging in the vast majority of political activities, including making direct expenditures for the expression of their views, giving speeches, soliciting votes, writing books, or appearing at fundraising events.” Blount v. SEC, 61 F.3d 938, 948 (D.C. Cir. 1995), cert. denied, 116 S. Ct. 1351 (1996). However, the Board has stated that hosting or paying to attend a fundraising event may constitute a contribution subject to section (b) of the rule. See Questions and Answers Nos. 24 and 29, May 24, 1994, reprinted in MSRB Rule Book.

[*][sentence deleted to reflect current rule provisions.]

Notice 1999-17 - Informational Notice
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Notice 1999-16 - Informational Notice
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Notice 1999-15 - Informational Notice
Publication date:
Notice 1999-14 - Informational Notice
Publication date:
Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Letters
Publication date:
G-15_4_20_99
Rule Number:

Amendment Filed

Amendment Filed to Proposed Rule Change on Rule G-15(d)(ii) on Automated Confirmation/Acknowledgement

On April 16, 1999, the Board filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("Commission") an amendment to its proposed rule change on Board rule G-15(d)(ii) on automated confirmation/acknowledgment of customer transactions.1 The proposed rule change was initially filed with the Commission on April 1, 1998.2 If approved by the Commission, it would allow dealers to comply with rule G-15 (d)(ii) by using the services of "qualified vendors" for confirmation/acknowledgment of Delivery Versus Payment/Receipt Versus Payment (DVP/RVP) customer transactions. Currently, without the proposed rule change, only clearing agencies that are registered with the Commission may be used to obtain the required confirmation/acknowledgment.

The amendment is comprised of two minor changes to the language of the proposed rule change. These modifications were requested by the Commission to make the Board’s proposed rule change more consistent with similar proposed rule changes on the same subject that have been filed with the Commission by other Self-Regulatory Organizations. One change concerns proposed subparagraph G-15(d)(ii)(B)(2)(C), which requires that, in order to maintain status as a qualified vendor, the vendor must file certain Auditor’s Reports annually with the Commission staff. The original requirement states that to remain qualified the vendor must obtain a statement from the Commission staff that the Commission staff does not object to the Auditor’s Report. The amendment states that the Auditor’s Report must be one "which is not deemed unacceptable" by the Commission staff.

The second language change relates to subparagraph G-15(d)(ii)(B)(2)(B), which contains the requirement that a Qualified Vendor certify that its confirmation/acknowledgement system meets certain qualifications. The amendment clarifies that this certification is to be made to the customers of the Qualified Vendor and removes the previous requirement that the certification be done annually.

April 20, 1999

Text of Proposed Rule Change (as amended)3

G-15. Confirmation, Clearance and Settlement of Transactions with Customers

(a) - (c) No change

(d) Delivery/Receipt vs. Payment Transactions.

        (i) No change.

        (ii) Requirement for Confirmation/Acknowledgment.

(A) Use of Registered Clearing Agency or Qualified Vendor. Except as provided in this paragraph (ii) of rule G-15(d), no broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer shall effect a customer transaction for settlement on a delivery vs. payment or receipt vs. payment (DVP/RVP) basis unless the facilities of a Cclearing Aagency registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (registered clearing agency) or Qualified Vendor are used for automated confirmation and acknowledgment of the transaction. Each broker, dealer and municipal securities dealer executing a customer transaction on a DVP/RVP basis shall: (A) ensure that the customer has the capability, either directly or through its clearing agent, to acknowledge transactions in an automated confirmation/acknowledgment system operated by a registered Cclearing Aagency or Qualified Vendor; (B) submit or cause to be submitted to a registered Cclearing Aagency or Qualified Vendor all information and instructions required by the registered Cclearing Aagency or Qualified Vendor for the production of a confirmation that can be acknowledged by the customer or the customer’s clearing agent; and (C) submit such transaction information to the automated confirmation/acknowledgment system on the date of execution of such transaction; provided that a transaction that is not eligible for automated confirmation and acknowledgment through the facilities of a registered Cclearing Aagency shall not be subject to this paragraph (ii).

(B) Definitions for Rule G-15(d)(ii).

(1) "Clearing Agency" shall mean a clearing agency as defined in Section 3(a)(23) of the Act that is registered with the Commission pursuant to Section 17A(b)(2) of the Act or has obtained from the Commission an exemption from registration granted specifically to allow the clearing agency to provide confirmation/acknowledgment services.

(2) "Qualified Vendor" shall mean a vendor of electronic confirmation and acknowledgment services that:

(A) for each transaction subject to this rule: (i) delivers a trade record to a Clearing Agency in the Clearing Agency’s format; (ii) obtains a control number for the trade record from the Clearing Agency; (iii) cross-references the control number to the confirmation and subsequent acknowledgment of the trade; and (iv) electronically delivers any acknowledgment received on the trade to the Clearing Agency and includes the control number when delivering the acknowledgment of the trade to the Clearing Agency;
(B) certifies to its customers: (i) with respect to its electronic trade confirmation/acknowledgment system, that it has a capacity requirements evaluation and monitoring process that allows the vendor to formulate current and anticipated estimated capacity requirements; (ii) that its electronic trade confirmation/acknowledgment system has sufficient capacity to process the volume of data that it reasonably anticipates to be entered into its electronic trade confirmation/acknowledgment service during the upcoming year; (iii) that its electronic trade confirmation/acknowledgment system has formal contingency procedures, that the entity has followed a formal process for reviewing the likelihood of contingency occurrences, and that the contingency protocols are reviewed, tested, and updated on a regular basis; (iv) that its electronic confirmation/acknowledgment system has a process for preventing, detecting, and controlling any potential or actual systems or computer operations failures, including any failure to interface with a Clearing Agency as described in rule G-15(d)(ii)(B)(2)(A), above, and that its procedures designed to protect against security breaches are followed; and (v) that its current assets exceed its current liabilities by at least five hundred thousand dollars;
(C) when it begins providing such services, and annually thereafter, submits an Auditor’s Report to the Commission staff which is not deemed unacceptable by the Commission staff. (An Auditor’s Report will be deemed unacceptable if it contains any findings of material weakness.);
(D) notifies the Commission staff immediately in writing of any material change to its confirmation/affirmation systems. (For purposes of this subparagraph (D) "material change" means any changes to the vendor’s systems that significantly affect or have the potential to significantly affect its electronic trade confirmation/acknowledgment systems, including: changes that: (i) affect or potentially affect the capacity or security of its electronic trade confirmation/acknowledgment system; (ii) rely on new or substantially different technology; (iii) provide a new service as part of the Qualified Vendor’s electronic trade confirmation/acknowledgment system; or (iv) affect or have the potential to adversely affect the vendor’s confirmation/acknowledgment system’s interface with a Clearing Agency.);
(E) notifies the Commission staff in writing if it intends to cease providing services;
(F) provides the Board with copies of any submissions to the Commission staff made pursuant to subparagraphs (C), (D), and (E) of this rule G-15(d)(ii)(B)(2) within ten business days.
(G) promptly supplies supplemental information regarding its confirmation/acknowledgment system when requested by the Commission staff or the Board.

(3) "Auditor’s Report" shall mean a written report which is prepared by competent, independent, external audit personnel in accordance with the standards of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Information Systems Audit and Control Association and which: (A) verifies the certifications described in subparagraph (d)(ii)(B)(2)(B) of this rule G-15; (B) contains a risk analysis of all aspects of the entity’s information technology systems including, computer operations, telecommunications, data security, systems development, capacity planning and testing, and contingency planning and testing; and (C) contains the written response of the entity’s management to the information provided pursuant to (A) and (B) of this subparagraph (d)(ii)(B)(3) of rule G-15.

(C) Disqualification of Vendor. A broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer using a Qualified Vendor that ceases to be qualified under the definition in rule G-15(d)(ii)(B)(2) shall not be deemed in violation of this rule G-15(d)(ii) if it ceases using such vendor promptly upon receiving notice that the vendor is no longer qualified.

(iii) No change

(e) No change.


ENDNOTES

1. File No. SR-MSRB-98-6, Amendment No. 1.

2. See Securities Exchange Act No. 39833 (April 6, 1998).

3. Underlining indicates additions; strikethrough denotes deletions.

 

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Notice 1999-13 - Informational Notice
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Notice 1999-12 - Informational Notice
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Notice 1999-11 - Informational Notice
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Notice 1999-10 - Informational Notice
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