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CFTC extends work-from-home COVID-19 relief to September 30 - 16 June 2020

An extension of no-action relief provides flexibility as financial services personnel return to the office.

As states continue to lift COVID-19 closures and workplaces cautiously reopen, the CFTC is easing the transition for financial services firms and infrastructure by extending relief from certain regulatory requirements until September 30. The relief applies to a broad range of market participants and relates particularly to requirements that are difficult or impossible to meet when working from home, including recording of voice communications, time-stamps, and location requirements. The relief extends previously granted no-action relief scheduled to expire at the end of June (CFTC Letter No. 20-19, June 9, 2020).

"This time-limited extension recognizes the reality that work-from-home arrangements are likely going to be commonplace for the foreseeable future," said Joshua Sterling, director of the Division of Swap Dealer and Intermediary Oversight, and Dorothy DeWitt, director of the Division of Market Oversight. "During this extended period, however, we expect that registrants will take the necessary steps to come into full compliance with CFTC regulations, such as those related to voice recordings and time-stamps."

The relief was requested by the Futures Industry Association (FIA), the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA), and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA).

Targeted relief. The letter provides no-action relief from the following requirements until September 30, 2020:

  • Recording of oral communications—Futures commission merchants (FCMs), introducing brokers (IBs), swap dealers (SDs), retail foreign exchange dealers (RFEDs), floor brokers (FBs), swap execution facilities (SEFs);
  • Time-stamps—FCMs, IBs, SDs, RFEDs, FBs, members;
  • Location requirement—FBs;
  • Introducing broker registration—FBs;
  • Audit trail and related requirements—Designated contract markets (DCMs).

The letter identifies specific CFTC regulations affected by the relief.

Maintain supervision. The Divisions stated that they expect registrants to reasonably supervise employees working remotely and to return to regular compliance as COVID-19-related risks decrease. DMO further stated that registrants should remain vigilant and implement compensating controls to ensure that market participants do not take advantage of market volatility to engage in improper trading.

A full list of all coronavirus-related relief issued by the CFTC and staff is available at cftc.gov/coronavirus.

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