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17 December 2015

Commission publishes Delegated Regulation supplementing UCITS Directive with regard to obligations of depositaries

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The Delegated Regulation ensures the direct applicability of detailed uniform rules concerning the operation of undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities and depositaries.

In order to allow the depositary to assess and monitor custody and insolvency risk, the written contract should provide sufficient detail on the categories of financial instruments in which the UCITS may invest and cover the geographical regions in which the UCITS plans to invest. The contract should also contain details of an escalation procedure in order to specify the circumstances, notification obligations and the steps to be taken by a depositary's staff member, at any level of its organisational structure, in relation to any detected discrepancies, including notification to the management company or the investment company or/and competent authorities, as required by this Regulation. Therefore, the depositary should alert the management company or the investment company of any material risk identified in a particular market’s settlement system. The termination of the contract should reflect the fact that it represents the depositary’s last resort when not satisfied that assets are sufficiently protected. It should also prevent moral hazard whereby the UCITS would make investment decisions irrespective of custody risks on the basis that the depositary would be liable. In order to maintain a high standard of investor protection, the requirement laying down the details for the monitoring of third parties should be applied in relation to the whole custody chain.

In order for the UCITS’ cash flows to be properly monitored, the depositary should ensure that there are procedures in place and that they are effectively implemented to appropriately monitor the UCITS’ cash flows and that those procedures are periodically reviewed. In particular, the depositary should look into the reconciliation procedure to satisfy itself that the procedure is suitable for the UCITS and performed at appropriate intervals taking into account the nature, scale and complexity of the UCITS. Such a procedure should for example compare one by one each cash flow as reported in the bank account statements with the cash flows recorded in the UCITS’ accounts. Where reconciliations are performed on a daily basis as for most UCITS, the depositary should perform its reconciliation also on a daily basis. The depositary should in particular monitor the discrepancies highlighted by the reconciliation procedures and the corrective measures taken in order to notify without undue delay the UCITS of any anomaly which has not been remedied and to conduct a full review of the reconciliation procedures. Such a review should be performed at least once a year. The depositary should also identify on a timely basis significant cash flows and in particular those which could be inconsistent with the UCITS’ operations, such as changes in positions in UCITS’ assets or subscriptions and redemptions, and it should receive periodically cash account statements and check the consistency of its own records of cash positions with those of the UCITS.

The depositary should hold in custody all financial instruments of the UCITS that could be registered or held in an account directly or indirectly in the name of the depositary or a third party to whom safekeeping functions are delegated, notably at the level of the central securities depositary. In addition the depositary should hold in custody those financial instruments that are only directly registered with the issuer itself or its agent in the name of the depositary or a third party to whom safekeeping functions are delegated. Those financial instruments that in accordance with applicable national law are only registered in the name of the UCITS with the issuer or its agent should not be held in custody. All financial instruments which could be physically delivered to the depositary should be held in custody. Provided that the conditions on which financial instruments are to be held in custody are fulfilled, financial instruments which are provided as collateral to a third party or are provided by a third party for the benefit of the UCITS have to be held in custody too by the depositary itself or by a third party to whom safekeeping functions are delegated as long as they are owned by the UCITS.

In order to be satisfied that UCITS assets and UCITS rights are protected against a third party insolvency, the depositary has to understand the insolvency law of the third country where a third party is located and ensure the enforceability of their contractual relation. Before delegating the safekeeping functions to a third party located outside of the Union, the depositary has to receive an independent legal opinion on the enforceability of the contractual arrangement with the third party under the applicable insolvency law and case law of the country the third party is located in, in order to ensure that the contractual arrangement is enforceable also in case of insolvency of the third party. A depositary’s duty to assess the regulatory and legal framework of the third country also includes the reception of the independent legal opinion assessing insolvency law and case law of the third country where that third party is located. Those opinions may be combined, as the case may be, or issued for each jurisdiction by relevant industry federations or law firms for the benefit of several depositaries.

Full Delegated Regulation

© European Commission

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