Regulator: Swap trading venues may miss deadline

By Reuters
Posted Feb. 16 at 12:01 p.m.

Swaps trading venues, a centerpiece of legislation overhauling derivatives, may need to be phased in later than planned because many will miss an October 15 deadline for meeting self-policing requirements, a Chicago-based regulator said.

The potential delay, flagged late Tuesday by National Futures Association President Daniel Roth in comments to a group of Chicago trading executives, represents a potential new setback as regulators rush to write rules for the sweeping Wall Street reform, known as the Dodd-Frank act, that was passed last summer.

The new law will force much of the world’s $600 trillion derivatives market into clearinghouses and onto newly designated venues called swap execution facilities.

Swaps traded in the murky over-the-counter market have been blamed for exacerbating the financial crisis, and lawmakers are forcing the contracts into regulated arenas in a bid to reduce risk and raise accountability.

Under rules proposed last month by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, trading venues seeking designation as swap execution facilities (SEFs) must show by mid-October that they are either capable of policing themselves or have hired another company to oversee them.

Some 10 to 15 swaps trading firms have approached the NFA, an industry-owned group that conducts audits and other oversight of some exchanges and brokers, to provide policing services for them, NFA’s Roth said.

But to do so the NFA must first have guidance from the CFTC on what to look for and how, and then develop the systems to do so, Roth said. That takes time.

“This October 15 date is questionable, I’m not sure it’s practical…. It would be a difficult date for us to hit,” Roth said. “You would have to delay, somewhat, the full implementation of the SEF trading requirement until the SEFs were able to make that certification.”

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