Dodd-Frank Establishes New Laws Regarding Spot Commodities and Spot Forex

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Act”) has changed a number of laws in all of the securities acts including the Commodity Exchange Act.  Two specific changes deal with certain transactions in commodities on the spot market.  Specifically, Section 742 of the Act deals with retail commodity transactions.  In this section, the text of the Commodity Exchange Act is amended to include new Section 2(c)(2)(D) (dealing with retail commodity transactions) and new Section 2(c)(2)(E) (prohibiting trading in spot forex with retail investors unless the trader is subject to regulations by a Federal regulatory agency, i.e. CFTC, SEC, etc.).  According to a congressional rulemaking spreadsheet, these are effective 180 days from the date of enactment.

We provide an overview of the new sections and have reprinted them in full below.

New CEA Section 2(c)(2)(D) – Concerning Spot Commodities (Metals)

The central import of new CEA Section 2(c)(2)(D) is to broaden the CFTC’s power with respect to retail commodity transactions.  Essentially any spot commodities transaction (i.e. spot metals) will be subject to CFTC jurisdiction and rulemaking authority.  There is an exemption for commodities which are actually delivered within 28 days.  While the CFTC wanted an exemption in which commodities would need to be delivered within 2 days, various coin collectors were able to lobby congress for a longer delivery period (see here).

It is likely we will see the CFTC propose regulations under this new section and we will keep you updated on any regulatory pronouncements with respect to this new section.

New CEA Section 2(c)(2)(E) – Concerning Spot Forex

The central import of new CEA Section 2(c)(2)(E) is to regulate the spot forex markets.  While the section requires the CFTC to finalize regulations with respect to spot forex (which were proposed earlier in January), it also, interestingly, provides  oversight of the markets to other federal regulatory agencies such as the CFTC.  This means that in the future, different market participants may be subject to different regulatory regimes with respect to trading in same underlying instruments.  A Wall Street Journal article discusses the impact of this with respect to firms which engage in other activities in addition to retail forex transactions.  The CFTC’s proposed rules establish certain compliance parameters for retail forex transactions, requires registration of retail forex managers and requires such managers to pass a new regulatory exam called the Series 34 exam.  We do not yet know whether the other regulatory agencies will adopt rules similar to the CFTC or if they will write rules from scratch.

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CEA Section 2(c)(2)(D)

‘‘(D) RETAIL COMMODITY TRANSACTIONS.—

‘‘(i) APPLICABILITY.—Except as provided in clause (ii), this subparagraph shall apply to any agreement, contract, or transaction in any commodity that is—

‘‘(I) entered into with, or offered to (even if not entered into with), a person that is not an eligible contract participant or eligible commercial entity; and

‘‘(II) entered into, or offered (even if not entered into), on a leveraged or margined basis, or financed by the offeror, the counterparty, or a person acting in concert with the offeror or counterparty on a similar basis.

‘‘(ii) EXCEPTIONS.—This subparagraph shall not apply to—

‘‘(I) an agreement, contract, or transaction described in paragraph (1) or subparagraphs (A), (B), or (C), including any agreement, contract, or transaction specifically excluded from subparagraph (A), (B), or (C);

‘‘(II) any security;

‘‘(III) a contract of sale that—

‘‘(aa) results in actual delivery within 28 days or such other longer period as the Commission may determine by rule or regulation based upon the typical commercial practice in cash or spot markets for the commodity involved; or

‘‘(bb) creates an enforceable obligation to deliver between a seller and a buyer that have the ability to deliver and accept delivery, respectively, in connection with the line of business of the seller and buyer; or

‘‘(IV) an agreement, contract, or transaction that is listed on a national securities exchange registered under section 6(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78f(a)); or

‘‘(V) an identified banking product, as defined in section 402(b) of the Legal Certainty for Bank Products Act of 2000 (7 U.S.C.27(b)).

‘‘(iii) ENFORCEMENT.—Sections 4(a), 4(b), and 4b apply to any agreement, contract, or transaction described in clause (i), as if the agreement, contract, or transaction was a contract of sale of a commodity for future delivery.

‘‘(iv) ELIGIBLE COMMERCIAL ENTITY.—For purposes of this subparagraph, an agricultural producer, packer, or handler shall be considered to be an eligible commercial entity for any agreement, contract, or transaction for a commodity in connection with the line of business of the agricultural producer, packer, or handler.’’.

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CEA Section 2(c)(2)(E)

‘‘(E) PROHIBITION.—

‘‘(i) DEFINITION OF FEDERAL REGULATORY AGENCY.—In this subparagraph, the term ‘Federal regulatory agency’ means—

‘‘(I) the Commission;

‘‘(II) the Securities and Exchange Commission;

‘‘(III) an appropriate Federal banking agency;

‘‘(IV) the National Credit Union Association; and

‘‘(V) the Farm Credit Administration.

‘‘(ii) PROHIBITION.—

‘‘(I) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in subclause (II), a person described in subparagraph (B)(i)(II) for which there is a Federal regulatory agency shall not offer to, or enter into with, a person that is not an eligible contract participant, any agreement, contract, or transaction in foreign currency described in subparagraph (B)(i)(I) except pursuant to a rule or regulation of a Federal regulatory agency allowing the agreement, contract, or transaction under such terms and conditions as the Federal regulatory agency shall prescribe.

‘‘(II) EFFECTIVE DATE.—With regard to persons described in subparagraph (B)(i)(II) for which a Federal regulatory agency has issued a proposed rule concerning agreements, contracts, or transactions in foreign currency described in subparagraph (B)(i)(I) prior to the date of enactment of this subclause, subclause (I) shall take effect 90 days after the date of enactment of this subclause.

‘‘(iii) REQUIREMENTS OF RULES AND REGULATIONS.—

‘‘(I) IN GENERAL.—The rules and regulations described in clause (ii) shall prescribe appropriate requirements with respect to—

‘‘(aa) disclosure;

‘‘(bb) recordkeeping;

‘‘(cc) capital and margin;

‘‘(dd) reporting;

‘‘(ee) business conduct;

‘‘(ff) documentation; and

‘‘(gg) such other standards or requirements as the Federal regulatory agency shall determine to be necessary.

‘‘(II) TREATMENT.—The rules or regulations described in clause (ii) shall treat all agreements, contracts, and transactions in foreign currency described in subparagraph (B)(i)(I), and all agreements, contracts, and transactions in foreign currency that are functionally or economically similar to agreements, contracts, or transactions described in subparagraph (B)(i)(I), similarly.’’.

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Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP provides legal support and forex registration services to forex managers.  Bart Mallon, Esq. can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

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