CFTC Establishes Expedited Process for Relief for Certain Delegating CPOs


On May 12, 2014, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) issued guidance[1] (the “CPO Guidance”) establishing the circumstances under which it intends to provide registration no-action relief through a streamlined process where a commodity pool operator (“CPO”) has delegated investment management authority with respect to a commodity pool to another person registered as a CPO.  The CFTC had historically received requests for, and in some cases issued, such no-action relief, but without the benefit of a streamlined approach.

A CPO is generally defined under the U.S. Commodity Exchange Act to include a person engaged in a business that is of the nature of a commodity pool or similar form of enterprise and who markets interests in a commodity pool and solicits, accepts or receives customer funds for investment in the pool for the purpose of trading in “commodity interests.”  Pursuant to modifications made in connection with Dodd-Frank, “commodity interests” are now defined to include swaps.[2]

In the CPO Guidance, the CFTC included a form of request for no-action relief, which provides for certifications and acknowledgements to be made by both the delegating and designated CPOs.  Significantly, the delegating CPO is to represent that the applicable “criteria” for relief, as set forth in the CPO Guidance, are met.  Similarly, the designated CPO is to acknowledge that it meets all the applicable “criteria.”  These criteria include, inter alia, that: (i) the delegation of investment management authority has been made (from the delegating CPO to the designated CPO) with respect to the commodity pool pursuant to a “legally binding document”; (ii) the designated CPO is registered as a CPO; (iii) there is a business reason for the designated CPO being a separate entity from the delegating CPO that is not solely to avoid registration by the delegating CPO; and (iv) the books and records of the delegating CPO with respect to the commodity pool are maintained by the designated CPO in accordance with CFTC Regulation 1.31.

[1] CFTC Staff Letter No. 14-69, Requesting Registration No-Action Relief on an Expedited Basis for Commodity Pool Operators who Delegate Certain Activities to a Registered Commodity Pool Operator under Certain Circumstances (May 12, 2014).

[2] See 7 U.S.C. 1a(11)(A)(i)(I).  The corresponding definition of “commodity pool” was amended to read, in relevant part, “any investment trust, syndicate, or similar form of enterprise operated for the purpose of trading in commodity interests, including any . . . swap.”  7 U.S.C. § 1a(10) (emphasis added).