SEC Chairman Cox, Prime Minister Rudd Meet Amid U.S.-Australia Mutual Recognition Talks
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C., March 29, 2008 — In a meeting at historic Blair House in Washington, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd today announced that the SEC, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and the Australian Treasury Department have begun formal discussions to develop a mutual recognition arrangement for the two nations’ securities markets. The discussions are intended to enhance cross-border law enforcement cooperation, facilitate regulatory coordination, and increase investor access to well-regulated capital markets.
The SEC recently announced that it would explore a limited agreement with one or more foreign regulatory counterparts that could provide the basis for the development of a more general approach to mutual recognition through rulemaking. Any mutual recognition agreement would be based upon a comparability assessment by the SEC and by the foreign authority of one another’s regulatory structures. The discussions between the SEC and the Australian authorities represent the first step toward a possible bilateral arrangement and will cover potential recognition to allow securities exchanges and market participants to operate in each other’s markets.
“I appreciate the leadership of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan, and ASIC Chairman Tony D’Aloisio in promoting high-quality securities regulation, investor protection, and transparent markets on a global basis,” said Chairman Cox. “As technology continues to reduce barriers to cross-border investing, securities regulators need to work together to keep our standards high. By beginning to build a sturdy basis for cooperation among securities regulators who share the same concerns, we can provide investors with more investment choices and greater investor protections. At the same time, we can strengthen the ability of our governments to cooperate in ways that will better help identify emerging international regulatory and supervisory issues.”
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd added, “Australia has a long history of recognising foreign regulation of securities markets and welcomes this opportunity to be included in a pilot mutual recognition arrangement with the SEC. We look forward to more bilateral arrangements with the SEC and other financial market regulators. Identifying and eliminating impediments to cross-border trading will mean easier and less costly access to well-regulated investment and will improve transparency and liquidity in our markets. This is a good economic and regulatory outcome.”
Over the past two decades, the SEC and ASIC have developed a close partnership on enforcement and regulatory issues, which was formalized in a 1993 Memorandum of Understanding on securities law enforcement. In recent years, SEC and ASIC enforcement staff have regularly worked together on cross-border investigations of violations of U.S. and Australian securities laws.
The SEC and ASIC today agreed to undertake a formal assessment of each other’s regulatory systems to determine the extent to which each jurisdiction produces a comparable level of investor protection. The results of the comparability assessment would be published for public comment before being made final. Once the comparability assessment is completed, this would provide the basis for further discussions between the SEC and ASIC regarding a formal mutual recognition arrangement, which would include specific discussion of the extent to which, and under what circumstances, U.S. and Australian securities exchanges and market participants could operate in each other’s markets and would articulate the additional cooperation arrangements that would be necessary and appropriate to ensure the integrity of financial markets and the protection of investors.