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Notice 2008-49 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2008-48 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2008-47 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2008-46 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2008-45 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2008-44 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2008-43 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2008-42 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2008-41 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2008-39 - Informational Notice
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Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
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Reminder Regarding the Application of Rule G-37 to Federal Election Campaigns of Issuer Officials
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Rule G-37

In 1999, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) published a notice on the application of Rule G-37, on political contributions and prohibitions on municipal securities business, to Presidential campaigns of issuer officials.[1]  In general, the notice described a 1995 interpretive letter[2] in which the Board noted that Rule G-37 is applicable to contributions given to an official of an issuer[3] who seeks election to federal office, such as the Presidency.  The Board also explained that the only exception to Rule G-37’s absolute prohibition on business is for certain contributions made to issuer officials by municipal finance professionals.  Specifically, contributions by such persons to an official of an issuer would not invoke application of the prohibition if the municipal finance professional is entitled to vote for such official, and provided that any contributions by such municipal finance professional do not exceed, in total, $250 to each official, per election.  In the example of an issuer official running for President, any municipal finance professional in the country can contribute the de minimis amount to the official’s Presidential campaign without causing a ban on municipal securities business with that issuer.  Finally, the Board noted that a Presidential candidate who has accepted public funding for the general election is prohibited under federal law from accepting any contributions to further his or her general election campaign.  In these circumstances, federal law allows individuals to contribute to the candidate’s compliance fund, which uses the contributions solely for legal and accounting services to ensure compliance with federal law and not for campaign activities.  Thus, any municipal finance professional in the country can contribute the de minimis amount to an issuer official’s compliance fund without causing a ban on municipal securities business with that issuer.  This would apply if the issuer official runs for President or Vice President.

The MSRB wishes to remind dealers that these concepts also apply to an issuer official who campaigns for any federal office.  For example, any municipal finance professional residing in a state in which an issuer official is campaigning for a state-wide federal office may contribute the de minimis amount to the official’s campaign without causing a ban on municipal securities business with that issuer.  The MSRB does not opine whether any particular individual is or is not an issuer official. 

The MSRB also wishes to remind dealers to be aware of the Rule G-37 issues involving indirect rule violations and contributions to non-dealer associated political action committees and payments to political parties, which issues have been the subjects of previous notices and interpretive Questions and Answers.[4]

 


[1] See Application of Rule G-37 to Presidential Campaigns of Issuer Officials reprinted in MSRB Rule Book (January 1, 2008) at 246-247.  The notice is also available from the MSRB Rules/Interpretive Notices section of the MSRB’s website at www.msrb.org.

 

[2] See MSRB Interpretation of May 31, 1995, reprinted in MSRB Rule Book (January 1, 2008) at 251-253.  The letter is also available from the MSRB Rules/Interpretive Letters section of the MSRB’s website at www.msrb.org.

[3] The term “official of an issuer” is defined in Rule G-37(g)(vi) as any person (including any election committee for such person) who was, at the time of the contribution, an incumbent, candidate or successful candidate: (A) for elective office of the issuer which office is directly or indirectly responsible for, or can influence the outcome of, the hiring of a broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer for municipal securities business by the issuer; or (B) for any elective office of a state or of any political subdivision, which office has authority to appoint any person who is directly or indirectly responsible for, or can influence the outcome of, the hiring of a broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer for municipal securities business by an issuer.

[4] See Notice Concerning Indirect Rule Violations: Rules G-37 and G-38, reprinted in MSRB Rule Book (January 1, 2008) at 248-249; Rule G-37 Questions and Answers Nos.  III.4 and III.5 regarding contributions to a non-dealer associated PAC and payments to a state or local political party, reprinted in MSRB Rule Book (January 1, 2008) at 240; and Rule G-37 Question and Answer No. III.7 regarding supervisory procedures relating to indirect contributions, reprinted in MSRB Rule Book (January 1, 2008) at 240-241.  The notice and Questions and Answers are also available on the MSRB’s website at www.msrb.org.

Notice 2008-38 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2008-37 - Informational Notice
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Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
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Transaction Reporting of Dealer Buybacks of Auction Rate Securities: RULE G-14
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Rule G-14

As a result of the unprecedented number of “failed  auctions” [1] in municipal Auction Rate Securities (“ARS”) that have occurred this year, many dealers have announced plans to offer to purchase customer positions in municipal ARS at a stated price, typically par (“ARS Buybacks”). These ARS Buyback programs predominantly have occurred pursuant to settlement agreements with state attorneys general. The MSRB has received questions from dealers whether ARS Buybacks must be reported to the MSRB Real-Time Transaction Reporting System (RTRS) and, if so, whether the M9c0 “away from market - other reason” special condition indicator must be included on such trade reports.

MSRB Rule G-14, on transaction reporting, requires all purchase-sale transactions in municipal securities to be reported to RTRS. Transactions in ARS must be reported to RTRS and trade reports of ARS Buybacks must be reported to RTRS without the M9c0 special condition indicator. The primary reason a trade report would be required to include the M9c0 special condition indicator is that the trade report contains information that could be misleading to users of price transparency reports.[2] The MSRB does not believe that trade reports of ARS Buybacks would provide misleading information relating to the market value of ARS because the price at which ARS Buybacks are executed has been publicly announced. Therefore, trade reports of ARS Buybacks as well as of other purchases of ARS from holders at current market prices must be reported without the M9c0 special condition indicator.[3]


[1] A “failed auction” is not an event of default by the issuer, it only relates to the auction process not being able to determine a clearing rate and not permitting investors attempting to sell their securities from being able to do so.

[2] RTRS serves the dual purposes of price transparency and market surveillance. Transactions reported with the M9c0 special condition indicator are entered into the surveillance database but suppressed from price dissemination. The MSRB has identified three specific situations in which the M9c0 special condition indicator is required to be included on trade reports. See Notice of Interpretation of Rule G-14: “Reporting of Transactions in Certain Special Trading Situations: Rule G-14,” dated January 2, 2008.

[3] Users of the MSRB’s price transparency reports produced from RTRS should be aware that ARS Buybacks may result in a higher than normal volume of trade reports in ARS and should not use this volume as an indication that the market for ARS has fully recovered from the unprecedented number of failed auctions that have occurred in 2008. Further, the prices at which ARS Buybacks are executed may not reflect the actual market value for the security.

Notice 2008-36 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2008-34 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2008-35 - Informational Notice
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Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
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Notice on Bank Tying Arrangements, Underpricing of Credit and Rule G-17 on Fair Dealing
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Rule G-17

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board is concerned that the recent increase in demand for liquidity facilities in the municipal securities market due to the downgrade of the monoline insurers and the conversion of auction rate securities programs may result in certain activities that could violate federal bank tying and underpricing of credit prohibitions.  The MSRB wishes to remind dealers of these prohibitions as well as the fact that any broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer (dealer) that aids and abets a violation of federal bank tying or underpricing of credit prohibitions also would violate Rule G-17 on fair dealing.

Section 106 of the Bank Holding Company Act Amendments of 1970 prohibits commercial banks from imposing certain types of tying arrangements on their customers, a practice known as “tying.”  Tying includes conditioning the availability or terms of loans or other credit products on the purchase of certain other products and services.  It is legal for banks to tie credit and traditional banking products, such as cash management, but it is not legal for banks to tie credit and debt underwriting from the bank or from the bank’s investment affiliate.  For example, a bank would violate Section 106 if the bank informs a customer seeking a liquidity facility from the bank that the bank will provide the liquidity facility only if the customer commits to hire the bank’s securities affiliate to underwrite an upcoming bond offering for the customer.  Section 106, however, does not prohibit a customer from deciding on its own to award some of its business to a bank or an affiliate as a reward for the bank previously providing credit or other business to the customer.  So too, if a bank provides a reduced rate on a liquidity facility because of an illegal tie in with an underwriting, that may also constitute an underpricing of credit (i.e., an extension of credit below market rates). The underpricing could violate Section 23B of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 which generally requires that certain transactions between a bank and its affiliates occur on market terms and applies to any transaction by a bank with a third party if an affiliate has a financial interest in the third party or if an affiliate is a participant in the transaction.

The MSRB encourages all interested parties to provide information concerning any arrangement in which the provision of liquidity facilities may have been illegally tied to investment banking services.  Such information may be provided to the appropriate bank regulatory authority or, if provided to the MSRB, the MSRB will forward it to the  appropriate bank regulatory authority.  In addition, the MSRB cautions that any dealer that aids or abets a violation of bank tying or the underpricing of credit prohibitions also would violate Rule G-17.  A dealer would be deemed to have aided and abetted a violation of the bank tying prohibition or underpricing of credit if it knew or had reason to know that the purchase of investment banking services had been tied to the provision and/or pricing of a liquidity facility by an affiliated bank in violation of the federal banking laws.

Notice 2008-33 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2008-32 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2008-31 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2008-30 - Informational Notice
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Rule G-29

Notice 2008-28 - Informational Notice
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