The Central Bank of Ireland (Central Bank) has published details of the flexible approach it will be adopting towards regulatory reporting requirements applicable to investment funds and fund service providers over the next few months.
In light of the COVID-19 crisis, the Central Bank has provided extensions of time for certain reports and announced that it will be making targeted data requests to firms and funds and that its regular assessments of the regulatory framework will be postponed.
A summary of the Central Bank’s announcement on 17 April 2020 is set out below.
Investment Firms and Fund Service Provider Returns
Investment Firms and Fund Service Providers are expected to file reports, including annual audited accounts and related returns with the Central Bank by their usual reporting deadlines where possible. The Central Bank has allowed for extensions for certain reporting requirements including:
- A two-month extension for filing annual audited accounts and related party annual accounts for submissions falling due from April to July 2020 inclusive.
- A one-month extension for interim and management accounts with a reporting date between March to May 2020 and Capital Adequacy Returns for reporting dates between March to May 2020.
All returns and reports not specifically listed in the Central Bank’s announcement are required to be submitted on time.
Financial Statements of Investment Funds
The Central Bank expects funds to file their annual returns within their usual timeframe. Where a fund is unable to meet the relevant deadline, it may avail of a prescribed extension period, but it must promptly notify the Central Bank and its investors where it expects a delay to the publication of its accounts. The notification must also provide the reason(s) for the delay and an estimated publication date.
For both UCITS and AIFs, the return date can be extended as follows:
- Annual audited financial statements referring to a year-end occurring on or after 31 December 2019, but before 1 April 2020 can be extended by up to two months.
- Annual audited financial statements referring to a year-end occurring on or after 1 April 2020, but before 1 May 2020 can be extended by up to one month.
- Semi-annual financial statements referring to a reporting period ending on or after 31 January 2020, but before 1 April 2020 can be extended by up to one month.
Additional Data Requests
The Central Bank has announced it will continue making targeted additional data requests to firms and funds to examine the effects of COVID-19 on the financial sector. The Central Bank stated that it will aim to be measured and pragmatic in making these requests. Firms are expected to respond to any requests in an expedient manner.
Risk Mitigation Programmes (RMPs)
The Central Bank expects investment firms and fund service providers to continue to meet the existing RMP implementation dates. Firms that may be unable to meet any specific RMP submission deadlines are being encouraged to discuss this with their usual Central Bank contacts and to be in a position to explain the reason why such deadlines are unable to be met. Any postponement will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Regulatory Policy Frameworks
Updates to the domestic regulatory policy framework for investment firms, fund service providers and investment funds have been delayed. The Central Bank stated that it will provide further updates on expected publications in each relevant area. The Central Bank also confirmed that its feedback statement to Consultation Paper 130 (CP130) Treatment, Correction and Redress of Errors in Investment Funds) will be delayed.
Applicability of ESMA Announcements
The Central Bank has confirmed that it will apply certain measures recently recommended by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA). The announcements from ESMA included encouraging national regulators, such as the Central Bank, to not prioritise supervisory actions against entities that are unable to meet certain financial and best execution reporting deadlines, or where firms are unable to comply with regulatory requirements such as voice recording communications. Instead, ESMA encourages regulators to adopt a risk-based approach to its enforcement actions.
These measures announced by the Central Bank will provide some leeway to firms and funds that may be under pressure to meet reporting deadlines in the current climate. However, funds and firms should be aware that the Central Bank’s expectation is that the returns are submitted on time and in certain circumstances where this is not possible, any delay must be notified to the Central Bank and investors, together with the reason(s) for the delay.
Funds and their service providers that have not already been contacted by the Central Bank should be aware of the Central Bank’s decision to make further data requests which will require additional attention.
The Central Bank has developed a COVID-19 Hub on its website. Further information on these announcements can be found on the Central Bank’s website.