uncleared swap margin rules

On April 29, Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Chris Giancarlo sent a letter to Randy Quarles, the Vice Chair for Supervision of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, in which he proposed that the US regulators responsible for the administering the margin rules for uncleared swaps should collaborate in providing some relief to non-dealer swap market participants who may become subject to initial margin requirements in 2020. The specific relief would be the issuance of the same guidance issued by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) and the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) in March (for more information, see the March 8, 2019 edition of Corporate & Financial Weekly Digest), which stated that in-scope parties do not have to put in place compliant documentation and custodial relationships if there is no expectation that the exposure associated with their swaps will actually exceed the regulatory threshold for posting initial margin ($50 million for the United States).
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On March 28, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced that it has unanimously approved two final rule amendments designed to ease registrants’ regulatory burdens. Both final rule proposals originated from the CFTC’s Project KISS Initiative, which is intended to simplify and reduce burdens by revisiting our rules based on staff implementation experience and public comment. The two rule amendments will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register and are detailed below:
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On November 19, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission approved a final rule to amend its margin requirements for uncleared swaps for swap dealers and major swap participants for which there is no prudential regulator (CFTC Margin Rule). As a part of the Project KISS initiative, the amendments were designed to harmonize the CFTC Margin Rule with related rules that certain prudential regulators have adopted (QFC Rules).
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On May 17, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission released a proposed rule to amend the CFTC’s margin requirements for uncleared swaps for swap dealers and major swap participants. The proposed rule amendments are intended to make the same changes to the CFTC margin requirements that federal banking regulators recently proposed for the margin rules for swap dealers that are subject to prudential regulation (for more information, please see the Corporate & Financial Weekly Digest edition of February 12, 2018). The proposed rule will ensure that master netting agreements of firms subject to the CFTC margin requirements are not excluded from the definition of “eligible master netting agreement” merely because they comply with recent regulatory changes to the treatment of qualified financial contracts executed with banks (“QFC Rules”).
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On February 5, the Prudential Regulators—the five federal banking regulators for swap dealers that are banks—proposed technical amendments to their margin rules for uncleared swaps. The amendments aim to harmonize the definition of Eligible Master Netting Agreement (EMNA) in the margin rules with recent changes made to the definition of “Qualifying Master Netting Agreement” (QMNA) in the capital and liquidity rules applicable to banks.
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On October 13, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the European Commission (EC) made three announcements that are significant for cross-border swap activity between the United States and Europe.

  1. CFTC Margin Rule Comparability Determination.

The CFTC has made a determination that the margin rules for uncleared swaps that apply in the European Union are comparable to the CFTC’s margin rules. This determination activates the substituted compliance provisions found in Section 23.160(b)(2)(iii) of the CFTC margin rules that until now have not been available to EU entities registered as swap dealers.
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On April 18, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Division of Swap Dealer and Intermediary Oversight (DSIO) issued No-Action Letter 17-22, which extends relief previously granted under CFTC No-Action Letter 17-05. CFTC No-Action Letter 17-05 allowed certain swap dealers to substitute compliance with the non-centrally cleared OTC derivative margin requirements applicable in the European Union (the

Lacking the ability to issue formal no-action relief from strict compliance with the variation margin rules for uncleared swaps coming into effect on March 1, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Office of Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the European Supervisory Authorities (ESA) have each issued statements suggesting that they

As part of a global regulatory initiative, the United States, European Union, Canada, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia have all adopted, or are in the process of adopting, rules (Margin Rules) that impose mandatory variation margin requirements on non-cleared swaps and, in some cases, non-cleared security-based swaps and FX derivatives (collectively, “Covered Trades”). Starting March 1, any entity that is a financial end user (FEU) will only be able to execute a Covered Trade with a US swap dealer if it has amended its swap documentation to comply with the requirements applicable to the dealer under the Margin Rules.
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On September 8, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission approved a comparability determination permitting substituted compliance with certain Japanese margin requirements for uncleared swaps. As discussed in the Corporate and Financial Weekly Digest edition for May 27, the CFTC permits certain non-US swap dealers and major swap participants to comply with the margin rules of another jurisdiction if the CFTC determines the foreign requirements are comparable to the CFTC requirements.
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