At Issue
1/18/2012 3:44:07 AM EST
The proposed regulatory regime for the OTC derivatives market in Hong Kong
Chin-Chong Liew and I-Ping Soong review the proposed regulatory regime for the over-thecounter derivatives market in Hong Kong, which is a response to regulatory reform commitments following the 2008 global financial crisis.
Posted by LexisNexis

The global financial crisis in 1998-99 prompted calls for the reformof the global over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives market. On17 October 2011, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) andthe Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) jointly published theConsultation paper on the proposed regulatory regime for the overthe-counter derivatives market in Hong Kong (the ‘ConsultationPaper’) to consult the public on a proposed new regime for OTCderivatives transactions in Hong Kong. The comment periodconcluded on 30 November 2011.

The proposed regime is clearly a response to the G20 leaders’regulatory reform commitments following the global financial crisis in2008, which require the implementation of the following obligations:

• the mandatory reporting of OTC derivative transactions to traderepositories (TRs),
• the mandatory clearing of standardised OTC derivativetransactions to central counterparties (CCPs) by the end of 2012;
• the mandatory trading of standardised OTC derivative transactionson exchanges or trading platforms, where appropriate; and
• the imposition of higher capital requirements in respect of OTCderivative transactions that are not centrally cleared.

In addition to the imposition of the mandatory clearing,reporting and trading obligations, the proposed new OTC derivativesregulatory regime also goes further and addresses how the financialintermediaries that play a key role in the OTC derivatives market willbe regulated. This aspect presents some interesting questions as tohow the proposed new regulated activity will interact with the scope of the existing regulated activities under the Securities and FuturesOrdinance (Cap 571) (SFO).

In Asia Pacific, Hong Kong is one of the first jurisdictions toaddress these issues in a public consultation. This is the first oftwo consultations and relates to the framework of the new OTCderivatives regime. A second consultation, expected to take place in thefirst quarter of 2012, will focus on the detailed changes to regulationsto implement the regime and it is only after this second consultationwill a clearer picture of the new regime emerge.

Framework

Legislative framework
The proposal is to set out the new legislative framework in the SFO,which will cover OTC derivative transactions in addition to securitiesand futures. At present, Hong Kong does not have a single andcohesive regime for parties seeking to carry out derivatives businessand one effect of the new proposals will be that such a regime may becreated.

The advantage of leveraging off the existing SFO legislativeframework, rather than creating a new piece of legislation specificallyto regulate OTC derivatives, is that legislative changes will beminimised. However, adapting the existing regime to fit OTCderivatives could lead to inconsistencies, as will be explored below.

The Consultation Paper proposes giving wide powers to the SFCand HKMA to develop the new regime through subsidiary legislation.This will be implemented by setting out the framework of the regimein the primary legislation, leaving details of the regime (such as thetypes of products covered by the mandatory obligations and theconditions of CCP designation) to be set out in subsidiary legislation.This approach has the advantage of providing flexibility for futuremarket changes, and takes into account the still-evolving internationalregulatory landscape.

‘OTC derivatives transactions’
The proposal is to expand the scope of the SFO via the new conceptof ‘OTC derivatives transactions’. This definition is doubly significant because it will delineate the widest possible scope of the mandatoryobligations and because it will determine who needs to be licensedwith the SFC for the purpose of the proposed new Type 11 regulatedactivity.

The Consultation Paper’s proposed approach is to adopt a verywide definition of ‘OTC derivatives transactions’ in the primarylegislation. In terms of the mandatory obligations only, the scope ofthese would be narrowed by the subsidiary legislation.

‘OTC derivatives transactions’ is to be defined using the existingall-encompassing ‘structured products’ definition in the SFO, but withcarve outs for transactions in securities and futures contracts that aretraded on a recognised exchange company (ie Hong Kong Exchangesand Clearing Limited); retail structured products authorised by theSFC; and transactions in currency-linked, interest rate-linked andcurrency and interest rate-linked instruments offered by authorizedinstitutions to the public.

This approach to drafting is hardly elegant and it would bepreferable to define ‘OTC derivatives transactions’ by reference to whatderivatives are, rather than what they are not. For example, the draftEuropean legislation defines ‘OTC derivatives’ as ‘derivative contractswhose execution does not take place on a regulated market, as definedby Art 4(1) point 14 of Directive 2004/39/EC’: The Proposal for theRegulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on OTCderivatives, central counterparties and trade repositories COM (2010)484/5, Art 2.

In addition, the second and third carve-outs relate to the marketing of derivatives, ie how derivatives and their documentationare authorised when offered for sale. This is a distinct issue from the licensing of intermediaries carrying on the business of dealing in OTCderivatives transactions. Since the ‘OTC derivatives transactions’definition is used to determine who needs to be licensed for theproposed Type 11 regulated activity, this would lead to some strangequirks. For example, a dealer engaging in private placements ofderivatives would require licensing for the new regulated activity, buta dealer engaging in the public offer of derivatives would not needto because it falls within a carve-out. This is certainly not how thesecurities business is currently regulated – the licensing of securities business does not depend on whether the securities are offered on thebasis of private placement or public offer.Given the central role played by the term ‘OTC derivativestransactions’, it is critical that the term is defined as clearly as possible.

The proposed mandatory obligations

The Consultation Paper proposes the introduction of mandatoryreporting and mandatory clearing requirements for certain types of OTC derivatives transactions. A mandatory trading obligation willnot be imposed at the outset, but the SFO may be amended to allowfor such an obligation to be introduced in the future if consideredappropriate.

Mandatory reporting 
One of the lessons learned from the global financial crisis is thatthe OTC derivatives market can be opaque, making it difficult forregulators to properly assess the build up of risk. The imposition of a mandatory reporting obligation for OTC derivativestransactions helps ensure the transparency of the OTCderivatives market.

As anticipated, the Consultation Paper proposesintroducing a mandatory reporting obligation in relation tocertain specified OTC derivatives transactions over a certainthreshold. At the same time, on the bricks-and-mortarlevel, the HKMA is in the process of setting up a nationalTR to enable the SFC and HKMA to assess and manageany systemic risk created by OTC derivatives transactions.The current thinking is that this will be the only TR to berecognised in Hong Kong, so as to better enable Hong Kongregulators to monitor OTC derivatives transactions.

What transactions are reportable?
The Consultation Paper contemplates a phased approachto reporting, with only certain classes of OTC derivativestransactions to be reportable initially. Of the most commonlytraded product types in Hong Kong, the largest market shareis taken up by foreign exchange (FX) derivatives, followedby interest rate swaps (IRS) and non-deliverable forwards(NDFs). The Consultation Paper notes that FX derivativesare of a short tenure and are mostly cleared through theContinuous Linked Settlement system, lessening the riskof these types of transactions. The mandatory reportingobligations will hence initially apply to IRS (single currencyIRS, overnight index swaps, single currency basis swaps) andNDFs.

Who needs to report?
The mandatory reporting obligation will apply in differentways to the following entities:

• licensed corporations (LCs);
• authorized institutions (AIs), both overseas-incorporatedand locally-incorporated; and
• Hong Kong persons, being individuals who are HongKong residents, the owners of sole proprietorships orpartnerships based in, operated from or registered in HongKong, companies that are incorporated or registered inHong Kong, funds that are managed in or from HongKong or any other entity established or registered underHong Kong law.

LCs and locally-incorporated AIs will be required toreport reportable transactions either: (i) to which they are acounterparty; or (ii) which they have originated and executed.This obligation applies irrespective of whether the AI hasconducted its activities through the Hong Kong branch or anoverseas branch.

Overseas-incorporated AIs will be required to report both:(i) reportable transactions that they are counterparty to, orhave originated or executed, in either case through their HongKong branch; and (ii) reportable transactions that they are acounterparty to and which have a ‘Hong Kong nexus’.

Trades will have a ‘Hong Kong nexus’ if, in the case of equity andcredit derivatives, the underlying entity is the reference entity which isestablished, incorporated or listed in Hong Kong or under Hong Kong law and, in the case of other derivatives, the underlying asset, currencyor rate is denominated in (or includes one that is denominated in) HKD. It will be interesting to see what other trades could potentially have a Hong Kong nexus, for example, trades denominated in offshore RMB?

Hong Kong persons will be required to report reportable transactions to which they are a counterparty if the specified reporting threshold has been exceeded. The reporting threshold only applies toHong Kong persons and not LCs or AIs.

It is currently not proposed to subject overseas persons (ie personsthat are not an AI, LC or Hong Kong person) to mandatory reporting.

Exemptions or qualifications to the reporting obligation
To reduce the reporting burden on Hong Kong persons, it is proposedto exempt Hong Kong persons from mandatory reporting if anAI or LC is also subject to a reporting obligation in respect of thattransaction. However, no exemption is available in the situation wheremore than one AI or LC is involved in the reportable transaction. In such case, all AIs or LCs involved will have to report.

It is also proposed that an AI or LC will have discharged itsreporting obligation in respect of a reportable transaction if ithas originated or executed the transaction on behalf of one of the counterparties and such counterparty has confirmed to the AI or LC that the transaction has been reported to the HKMATR.

Mandatory clearing
One of the lessons learned from the global financial crisis was howthe insolvency of one counterparty can have a rapid contagion effect throughout the financial system. The clearing of OTC derivativestransactions through a CCP is an important way to minimise suchsystemic risk as it interposes the CCP as counterparty to each trade.The proposal in the Consultation Paper is to introduce a requirementthat clearing eligible transactions must be cleared through a designatedCCP. Mindful of the costs involved in mandatory clearing, theConsultation Paper frames the mandatory clearing obligation morenarrowly than the mandatory reporting obligation.

What transactions need to be cleared?
The mandatory clearing obligation is proposed only to apply to‘clearing eligible transactions’. At the outset, clearing eligibletransactions are proposed to cover the same classes of transactions asreportable transactions (ie NDFs and IRSs), although this is not yetconfirmed.

Who needs to clear?
In general, if an AI, LC or Hong Kong person is either a counterpartyto a clearing eligible transaction or has originated or executed sucha transaction, and if both counterparties have exceeded the specifiedclearing threshold, then such transaction would need to be cleared.

The mandatory clearing obligation applies slightly differently tolocally-incorporated AIs and overseas-incorporated AIs. For locallyincorporated AIs, mandatory clearing will apply in respect of allactivities in clearing eligible transactions, irrespective of whether suchtransactions are carried out through the Hong Kong branch or froman overseas branch. For an overseas-incorporated AI, its involvementin the relevant transaction must be through its Hong Kong branch.

Exemptions to the clearing obligation 
Significantly, to mitigate the burden of having to clear an OTCderivative transaction through multiple CCPs, an exemption isproposed where both counterparties are overseas persons and wherethe transaction is either subject to or exempt from mandatory clearingunder the laws of an acceptable overseas jurisdiction. The SFC andHKMA have yet to identify which are acceptable overseas jurisdictions,but these are anticipated to be where the reporting, clearing andtrading of OTC derivatives are on a par with international standardsand practices.

This exemption will be important in the situation where a HongKong AI or LC originates or executes a clearing eligible transactionbetween two entities that are not an AI, LC or Hong Kong person.

Conflicting international obligations
An important challenge with mandatory clearing is the possibility ofconflicting clearing obligations. This may occur where OTC derivativetransactions are entered into on a cross-border basis. For instance, ifa Hong Kong counterparty transacts with a UK counterparty, bothmay be subject to mandatory clearing obligations in their respectivejurisdictions. As the transaction can only be cleared through one CCP,there must be a mechanism for resolving this conflict. The issue mayalso arise as a result if laws have extra-territorial impact, for instance, ifa mandatory clearing obligation were to catch transactions engaged inby an overseas branch of an entity, and that branch was also subject to asimilar obligation under the law of the jurisdiction of its establishment.

The proposed Hong Kong mandatory clearing obligation containssome limits to its territorial scope. There is the exemption describedabove for transactions between two overseas persons, and in addition,the clearing obligation applies only to transactions originated orexecuted by the Hong Kong branch of overseas AIs. However, therestill remains scope for potential conflict with clearing obligations inother jurisdictions. A possible solution to this is to permit a personto satisfy his/her mandatory obligations by clearing on an overseasplatform. The Consultation Paper indeed contemplates the licensingof overseas platforms in Hong Kong.

Other possible international solutions include the mutualrecognition of CCPs. Mutual recognition involves one jurisdictionrecognising CCPs regulated by another jurisdiction so that regulatedpersons in the first jurisdiction may satisfy their mandatory clearingobligations by clearing through CCPs regulated in the secondjurisdiction. Such CCPs may or may not be licensed or have a presencein the first jurisdiction. A framework for mutual recognition can onlybe established by international co-operation and it is still not clearto what extent regulators internationally are co-operating to devisepractical solutions to these issues.

Designation and regulation of CCPs

It is proposed that clearing eligible transactions must be clearedthrough a designated CCP. Designated CCPs are anticipated to berecognised clearing houses (RCHs) or an automated trading services(ATS) provider authorised under Part III of SFO (subject to expansionof the relevant definitions to cover OTC derivatives transactions). Thisopens up the possibility of overseas CCPs obtaining authorisation asan ATS provider and providing clearing services in Hong Kong.

Regulation of OTC derivatives market participants

Regulation of financial intermediaries
The Consultation Paper proposes adding a new ‘Type 11’ regulatedactivity to the SFO, which would impose a licensing requirement onany person, other than an authorized institution, who carries on abusiness of dealing in or advising on OTC derivatives transactions.The scope of Type 11 is likely to be similar to the existing dealing/advising regulated activities; that is, it would reach persons who induce,advise on, intermediate, arrange or otherwise facilitate transactions,but would be likely to exclude persons who are trading on a purelyprincipal basis (although such persons may be subject to regulationas ‘large players’). Presumably, as with the current regulated activities,the licensing obligation will fall on a person who carries on a businessin Hong Kong or who actively markets the service to the Hong Kongpublic on a cross-border basis.

Given the broad reach of this definition, the new Type 11definition could impose a licensing requirement on a significantnumber of firms in Hong Kong, including firms that are currentlyarranging OTC derivatives transactions on an unlicensed basis.

Scope of regulated activity
It would appear that there will be significant overlap between thenew Type 11 regulated activity and existing regulated activities,such as dealing in securities (Type 1) or leveraged foreign exchangetrading (Type 3). For example, a firm that is trading in equityoption and swap transactions would potentially require licensing forType 1 as well as the new Type 11 regulated activity. The ConsultationPaper invites feedback on how such an overlap can be reconciled.The Consultation Paper mentioned two possible approaches. Onepossibility is that the Type 11 requirement would apply only toactivities not caught by the existing regulated activities, the scope ofwhich would remain unchanged. The regulation of OTC derivativestransactions would be split between Type 1, Type 3 and Type 11regulated activities. The second approach is to amend the scope of theexisting regulated activities so as to exclude activities falling withinthe scope of the new Type 11 regulated activity. Whichever approachis taken, it is important that the categories of regulated activity shouldbe well thought through as this will have an impact not only on whatexceptions apply but who the applicable regulator is. It is also currentlyunclear what exceptions, if any, will apply to the new Type 11 regulatedactivity.

Oversight of intermediaries
The proposed regime will also create some complexity in the oversightregime for OTC derivatives transactions with the HKMA and the SFC having joint oversight of the new regime. It will be important toensure a level playing field between authorized institutions and otherregulated entities.

Oversight of ‘large players’
Regulators are considering whether to impose a limited degree ofregulatory oversight over ‘large players’ in the OTC market. Suchentities will not be subject to a licensing requirement but may berequired to report their positions above a certain threshold.

Capital charges and margin requirements

The Consultation Paper indicates that the Hong Kong regulatorsare considering how capital charges and margin requirements willbe determined for non-cleared trades and will have regard to theproposals by the international standard setters in determining what isappropriate.

Conclusion

Internationally, the Dodd-Frank Act in the US has created a newworld for OTC derivatives and European regulatory efforts are not farbehind. The proposals in the Consultation Paper are a step in the rightdirection and are in line with global efforts. However, the devil is inthe detail and it remains to be seen how the detailed areas of the newproposal will be clarified.

 

 

Chin-Chong Liew
Partner
Linklaters

 

I-Ping Soong
Managing Associate
Linklaters

 

 

有關香港場外衍生工具市場監管制度建議
Chin-Chong Liew及I-Ping Soong探討有關香港場外衍生工具市場監管制度建議,該建議乃回應2008年全球金融危機後所承諾作出的監管制度改革。

1998至99年全球金融危機促使環球場外衍生工具市場進行改革。香港金融管理局(下稱「金管局」)與證券及期貨事務監察委員會(下稱「證監會」)於2011年10月17日就香港場外衍生工具交易的建議新制度聯合刊發《有關香港場外衍生工具市場監管制度建議的諮詢文件》(下稱《諮詢文件》),以徵詢公眾意見。諮詢期已於2011年11月30日結束。

建議制度明顯回應20國集團領袖於2008年全球金融危機過後所承諾作出的監管制度改革,其中包括以下各項規定執行的責任:
• 強制性向交易資料儲存庫(下稱「儲存庫」)匯報場外衍生工具交易;

• 於2012年底前強制性通過中央交易對手結算標準化場外衍生工具交易;
• (因應適當情況)強制性在交易所或交易平台進行標準化場外衍生工具交易;及
• 對非中央結算的場外衍生工具交易實施較高的資本要求。

除有關強制性結算、匯報及交易之責任外,場外衍生工具監管的建議新制度進一步說明將如何監管在場外衍生工具市場擔當重要角色的金融中介人。這方面出現了一些有趣的議題,如建議新制度中的受規管活動將如何根據《證券及期貨條例》(第571章)與現行受規管活動的範疇融合。

亞太區方面,香港是首個就這些議題進行公眾諮詢的司法管轄區之一。這是兩次諮詢中的第一次,並與場外衍生工具的新制度框架有關。預期於2012年第一季進行的第二次諮詢將集中於執行監管制度中規條上的詳細變動情況。相信第二次諮詢結束後,新制度才會出現較為清晰的面貌。

框架

法律框架
建議新制度旨在於《證券及期貨條例》制定新的法律框架,該框架除包括證券及期貨外,現將亦包括場外衍生工具交易。目前香港就擬進行衍生工具業務的人士並無一套單一而整合的監管制度,而建議新制度所產生的其中一個影響將會是有可能設立此監管制度。

利用現行的《證券及期貨條例》法律框架而非特訂一套新法例去規管場外衍生工具的好處,在於可盡量減少法例變動。然而,調整現有制度以規管場外衍生工具可能會導致不一致之處,詳情於下文探討。

《諮詢文件》建議賦予證監會及金管局廣泛權力透過附屬法例建構全新的監管制度。而這將透過在主體法例中訂立制度框架來實施,制度細節(如強制性責任所涵蓋的產品類別及規管指定中央交易對手結算所的條件)則載於附屬法例。這方法的優點在於靈活應對未來市場變化,並同時顧及不斷演化中的國際監管環境。

「場外衍生工具交易」
建議新制度透過「場外衍生工具交易」這個新概念,擴大《證券及期貨條例》的規管範圍。這定義具雙重的重要性,因為定義除將在盡可能廣泛的範圍內規定強制性責任,還決定誰需要為建議中新訂的第11類受規管活動向證監會申請牌照。

《諮詢文件》的建議方針是於主體法例中為「場外衍生工具交易」制訂非常廣泛的定義。僅就強制性責任而言,則將由附屬法例收窄其範圍。

「場外衍生工具交易」將按現行《證券及期貨條例》中定義非常廣泛的「結構性產品」來界定,惟剔除在認可交易所(即香港交易及結算所有限公司)買賣的證券及期貨合約的交易、獲證監會認可的零售結構性產品、以及由認可機構公開發售的貨幣掛鈎工具、利率掛鈎工具,或貨幣及利率掛鈎工具的交易。

上述的草擬方法未算盡善盡美,而根據衍生工具的特徵(而非根據不屬於衍生工具的特徵)來正面定義「場外衍生工具交易」則屬明智之舉。例如歐洲法例的草擬本將「場外衍生工具」定義為「並非於受規管市場執行交易之衍生工具合約(有關定義見Art 4(1) point 14 of Directive 2004/39/EC)」:歐洲議會及委員會對場外衍生工具、中央交易對手及交易資料儲存庫的規管建議COM (2010) 484/5,第2條(The Proposal for the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on OTC derivatives,
central counterparties and trade repositories COM (2010) 484/5, Art 2)。

此外,第二和第三項剔除項目關於衍生工具的市場推廣,即認可提呈發售的衍生工具及其文件的方式。這不可與中介人進行場外衍生工具交易業務的發牌制度相提並論。由於「場外衍生工具交易」的定義乃用以釐定哪些人士須獲發牌方能進行建議第11類受規管活動,若干奇怪的現象便由此而生。例如,正從事衍生工具私人配售的交易商須就該項新訂受規管活動申領牌照,但正從事公開發售衍生工具的交易商卻因有關活動屬於剔除範圍內而毋須申領牌照。顯而易見,這並非現行證券業務的規管模式—現時證券業務的發牌制度並非視乎發售證券的方式屬於私人配售或公開發售而定。

基於「場外衍生工具交易」一詞擔當關鍵的角色,該詞的清晰界定十分重要。

擬議的強制性責任

《諮詢文件》建議就若干類別的場外衍生工具交易引入強制性匯報及強制性結算的規定。雖則不會在初期便推行強制性交易責任,但《證券及期貨條例》可能會於日後適當時候作出修訂以引入強制性交易責任 。

強制性匯報
場外衍生工具市場透明度低,以致監管機構難以恰當地評估風險結構,正是我們從環球金融危機中所汲取的經驗之一。就場外衍生工具交易實施強制性匯報責任,有助確保場外衍生工具市場的透明度。

如先前所料,《諮詢文件》建議就在若干門檻之上的特定場外衍生工具交易引入強制性匯報責任。同時,實際上,金管局正在設立一個全港性的交易資料儲存庫的過程中,讓證監會及金管局評估及管理由場外衍生工具交易所產生的任何系統性風險。按照現時的構思,該交易資料儲存庫將是香港唯一認可的交易資料儲存庫,以供香港的監管機構能更有效地規管場外衍生工具交易。

哪些交易須予匯報?
《諮詢文件》建議分階段實施匯報責任,初期僅要求就若干類別的場外衍生工具交易作出匯報。香港市場交易最頻繁的產品種類中,佔市場份額最多的是外匯衍生工具,其次是利率掉期及不交收遠期外匯。《諮詢文件》指出,外匯衍生工具屬短期及大多數通過持續聯繫結算及交收系統交收,從而減少上述各種交易的風險。故此,強制性匯報責任初期將適用於利率掉期(單一貨幣利率掉期、隔夜指數掉期、單一貨幣息率基準掉期 )及不交收遠期外匯。

誰需要匯報?
強制性匯報責任將以不同方式應用於下列實體︰

• 持牌法團;
• 認可機構(無論是境外註冊還是本地註冊);及
• 香港人士,即屬香港居民的個體、總部設於香港、從香港運作或在香港註冊的獨資或合夥經營企業的擁有人、在香港成立為法團或註冊的公司、在香港或從香港管理的基金或根據香港法律設立或註冊的任何其他實體。

持牌法團及本地註冊認可機構將須匯報須予匯報交易,不論(i)它們是交易對手,或(ii)它們是發起或執行交易者。該項責任均適用於不論是通過香港分行或海外分行進行其業務的註冊認可機構。

境外註冊認可機構將須於以下情況匯報︰(i)它們是其中一方交易對手或發起或執行該交易,而該交易通過其香港分行成為須予匯報交易;及(ii)它們是交易對手,而有關交易因「與香港有關連」成為須予匯報交易 。

如涉及股票衍生工具及信貸衍生工具,而潛在的實體乃在香港或根據香港法律設立、成立為法團或上市的參考實體,此交易便「與香港有關連」。如屬其他衍生工具,那相關資產、貨幣或利率則是以港元為單位(或包括一種以港元為單位的資產、貨幣或利率)。令人關注的是,有沒有其他交易也可能與香港有關連呢?例如以離岸人民幣計價的交易?

倘有關交易超越特定匯報門檻,香港人士作為交易對手,則須匯報有關之須予匯報交易。匯報門檻僅適用於香港人士而非持牌法團或認可機構。目前,並不建議境外人士(即非認可機構、非持牌法團或非香港人士)須作出強制性匯報。

匯報責任的轄免及資格
為減輕香港人士的匯報負擔,建議中指若認可機構或持牌法團須就有關交易遵行匯報責任,則香港人士可獲豁免遵行強制性匯報責任。然而,若然多於一間認可機構或持牌法團涉及須予匯報交易,則該項豁免並不適用。就此而言,所有涉及之認可機構或持牌法團均須作出匯報。

建議中亦指出倘認可機構或持牌法團代表其中一名交易對手發起或執行有關交易,而該交易對手亦向該認可機構或持牌法團確認已向金管局儲存庫匯報該宗交易,則該認可機構或持牌法團可算作已履行其匯報須予匯報交易之責任。

強制性結算
某一交易對手無力償債對金融體系迅速引發的蔓延效應,也是我們從全球金融危機中所汲取的經驗之一。通過中央交易對手結算所結算場外衍生工具交易,乃將系統性風險減至最低的重要方法,原因是此舉可在每次交易時將中央交易對手結算所介入為交易對手。《諮詢文件》建議引入合結算資格交易必須透過一個指定的中央交易對手結算所結算的規定。基於強制性結算所涉及的成本,《諮詢文件》所構思的強制性結算責任範圍較強制性匯報責任小。

哪些交易須予結算?
建議指強制性結算責任僅適用於「合結算資格交易」。在一開始,建議提出合結算資格交易應涵蓋同類交易作為須予匯報交易(即不交收遠期外匯及利率掉期),惟有關建議有待確認。

誰需進行結算?
一般而言,倘認可機構、持牌法團或香港人士為合結算資格交易其中一名交易對手,或該宗交易由認可機構、持牌法團或香港人士發起或執行,而交易雙方均已超越特定結算門檻,則該宗交易須予結算。

強制性結算責任對本地註冊認可機構及境外註冊認可機構的應用情況會略為不同。就本地註冊認可機構而言,強制性結算應用於一切有關合結算資格交易的活動,而不論該等交易是通過其香港分行或由境外分行進行。就境外註冊認可機構而言,強制性結算僅應用於其經香港分行所進行的相關交易。

豁免結算責任
重要的是,為減輕透過多間中央交易對手結算所結算場外衍生工具交易的負擔,建議指倘交易雙方均為境外人士,而該宗交易根據某一可接納之海外司法管轄區的法律而須遵守或獲豁免遵守強制性結算,則應可獲得有關豁免。證監會及金管局仍未訂出哪些地區可接納為海外司法管轄區,但預計有關地區將為場外衍生工具匯報、結算及交易的規定均符合國際標準及慣例的司法管轄區。

倘香港的認可機構或持牌法團發起或執行涉及兩間非認可機構、非持牌法團或非香港人士的機構所進行的合結算資格交易時,上述豁免將尤其重要。

與國際責任有所衝突
強制性結算涉及的主要困難在於可能會與結算責任有所衝突。倘場外衍生工具交易按跨境基準而進行,則可能會出現上述衝突。例如,倘一名香港交易對手與另一名英國交易對手進行交易,雙方可能均須遵守各自司法管轄區的強制性結算責任。由於有關交易僅可透過一名中央交易對手結算所結算,故須制定機制以解決有關衝突。有關爭議亦可能因域外法律效力而產生,例如,倘某機構的境外分行從事的交易須履行強制性結算責任,該分行亦須遵守其註冊地的司法管轄區法律所施加類似的責任。

擬議的香港強制性結算責任對其地域範圍設定了若干限制。偌交易雙方均為境外人士會如上述般獲得豁免;此外,結算責任僅適用於由境外認可機構的香港分行發起或執行的交易。然而,與其他司法管轄區的結算責任產生仍然潛在衝突的可能性。一個解決上述問題的方案可以是容許某人透過境外平台結算以履行其強制性責任。事實上,《諮詢文件》預期會在香港向境外平台發牌。

其他可行的國際解決方案包括互相認可中央交易對手結算所。互相認可涉及某司法管轄區認可中央交易對手結算所受另一司法管轄區的規管,好讓第一司法管轄區的受規管人士可透過第二司法管轄區規管的中央交易對手結算所結算以履行其強制性結算責任。有關中央交易對手結算所可能會或可能不會獲發牌,亦可能會或可能不會位處第一司法管轄區。互相認可的框架僅可通過國際合作建立,惟國際間的監管機構為以上事項制訂實際解決方案所能取得的合作範圍目前尚未清晰。

中央交易對手結算所的指定及規管

建議指合結算資格交易須透過指定的中央交易對手結算所結算。指定的中央交易對手結算所預期將為認可結算所或根據《證券及期貨條例》(有關定義有待擴大範圍以涵蓋場外衍生工具交易)第III部獲授權為認可自動化交易服務提供者。此舉或會為境外中央交易對手結算所開創獲授權成為認可自動化交易服務提供者並在香港提供結算服務的先河。

場外衍生工具市場參與者的規管

金融中介人的規管
《諮詢文件》建議為《證券及期貨條例》新增一項第11類受規管活動,規定從事場外衍生工具交易買賣或諮詢業務的任何人士(認可機構除外)須申領牌照。第11類的範圍或與現有買賣/諮詢的受規管活動相若;即適用於誘使、建議、中介、安排或以其他方式促成交易的人士,惟可能不包括按純粹主要基準買賣的人士(儘管該等人士或須受有關「大型市場參與者」規定所規管)。因應目前的受規管活動,申領牌照的責任大概會落在於香港營業或向香港公眾人士按跨境方式積極銷售服務的人士身上。

鑒於上述定義廣泛,新增第11類的定義可致使大量香港公司被納入須申領牌照規定範圍內,包括目前未獲發牌下安排場外衍生工具交易的公司。

受規管活動的範圍
新增第11類受規管活動看似會與現行受規管活動有大量的重疊,例如證券交易(第1類)或槓桿式外匯交易(第3類)。舉例而言,一間買賣股票期權及掉期交易的公司可能須就第1類以及新增第11類受規管活動申領牌照。《諮詢文件》邀請有關各方就如何協調有關重疊提出意見,並提及兩個可能解決途徑。其中一個途徑是第11類的規定僅應用於並未受現行受規管活動規限的活動,而現行受規管活動的範圍則維持不變。在規管下,場外衍生工具交易將分為第1類、第3類及第11類受規管活動。第二個途徑是修訂現行受規管活動的範圍,以剔除屬於新增第11類受規管活動範圍的活動。不論是採取哪一種途徑,重要的是仔細考慮受規管活動的類別,因為這不單影響到豁免的應用範圍,亦影響到哪機構擔當監管的角色。此外,適用於新增第11類受規管活動的豁免範圍(如有)目前尚未清晰。

監察中介人
隨著金管局及證監會共同監察新制度,建議制度亦將對場外衍生工具交易的監察機制帶來若干複雜問題。重要的是確保認可機構及其他受規管實體有公平的競爭環境。

監察「大型參與者」
監管機構仍在考慮是否應對場外衍生工具市場上的「大型參與者」施加一定程度的規管監察。有關實體將不受申領牌照規定限制,惟可能須於高過若干門檻時匯報其狀況。

資本要求及保證金規定

《諮詢文件》指出,香港監管機構正考慮如何就未結算買賣釐定資本要求及保證金規定,並會於釐定適當範圍時考慮國際準則制定組織作出的建議。

總結

國際方面,美國《多德-弗蘭克保護法》(Dodd-Frank Act)已為場外衍生工具翻開新一頁,歐洲方面的監管制度亦緊隨其後。《諮詢文件》的建議標誌著朝正確方向邁出的一步,與全球各國群策群力。然而,有關建議知易行難,我們拭目以待新建議的詳細部份將如何予以闡明。

 

 

Chin-Chong Liew
合夥人
年利達律師事務所

 

I-Ping Soong
資深律師
年利達律師事務所


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