AFR Statement: Delaying the lowering of de minimis threshold hurts oversight, protections for counterparties

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 15, 2016

CONTACT: Alexis Goldstein, Americans for Financial Reform / 202-973-8005

We are deeply disappointed that CFTC Chair Massad has delayed by one year the lowering of the “de minimis” threshold that requires Swap Dealers to register with the Commission. Earlier this year, lawmakers and AFR alike strongly urged the Commission to allow the de minimis phase-in threshold of $8 billion to fall to $3 billion on December 31, 2017 as scheduled. This delay creates the potential for loss of protections to the counterparties of dealers, to the swaps market overall, and to the public more broadly. This is something the Commission itself implicitly acknowledged in the joint final rule with the SEC, which noted that “a de minimis exception, by its nature, will eliminate key counterparty protections” and that the “broader the exception, the greater the loss of protection.” Further, we remain concerned that the current phase-in threshold is so high that it is excluding from oversight many non-financial commodity derivatives dealers — as significant players in the oil and natural gas derivatives markets such as Trafigura, Vitol, Statoil, and Koch Supply and Trading are not registered. The decision by the Chair means that many derivatives business will continue to operate for two more years without the new oversight Congress mandated they receive.