The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission has issued regulations concerning off-exchange retail foreign currency transactions. The rules implement provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, which, together, provide the CFTC with broad authority to register and regulate entities wishing to serve as counterparties to, or to intermediate, retail foreign exchange, or forex, transactions.

The final forex rules put in place requirements for, among other things, registration, disclosure, recordkeeping, financial reporting, minimum capital and other business conduct and operational standards. Specifically, the regulations require the registration of counterparties offering retail foreign currency contracts as either futures commission merchants, or FCMs, or retail foreign exchange dealers, or RFEDs, as a new category of registrant. Persons who solicit orders, exercise discretionary trading authority or operate pools with respect to retail forex also will be required to register, either as introducing brokers, commodity trading advisors, commodity pool operators (as appropriate) or as associated persons of such entities. “Otherwise regulated” entities, such as United States financial institutions and SEC-registered brokers or dealers, remain able to serve as counterparties in such transactions under the oversight of their primary regulators.

The final rules include financial requirements designed to ensure the financial integrity of firms engaging in retail forex transactions and robust customer protections. For example, FCMs and RFEDs are required to maintain net capital of $20 million plus 5 percent of the amount, if any, by which liabilities to retail forex customers exceed $10 million. Leverage in retail forex customer accounts will be subject to a security deposit requirement to be set by the National Futures Association within limits provided by the CFTC. All retail forex counterparties and intermediaries will be required to distribute forex-specific risk disclosure statements to customers and comply with comprehensive recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

The final rules become effective October 18, 2010.

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