Alert August 05, 2008

SEC and DOL Enter Into Information-Sharing Memorandum of Understanding to Formalize Regulatory Cooperation

Cementing existing information-sharing and increasing collaboration in the area of retirement plans, the SEC and the Department of Labor (“DOL”), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) on July 29, 2008, which allows for a more streamlined system of sharing information between the agencies in examinations, investigations and enforcement proceedings concerning “matters of mutual interest.”  The MOU, which will be in effect for five years, reflects the current practice of sharing information between the SEC and the DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, but sets up a more formalized framework for: (1) regular meetings to discuss trends, exam findings, regulatory requirements and enforcement cases; (2) points of contact at each regulator’s regional offices; (3) cross-training in each agency’s mission and investigative jurisdiction; (4) DOL access to non-public SEC exam information; (5) SEC and DOL access to non-public enforcement information of both agencies; and (6) ensuring confidentiality and protection of privilege.  As discussed in the July 8, 2008 Alert, the SEC has signed a similar MOU agreement with the FRB, and announced in March that it had done so with the CFTC.  Because the DOL/SEC MOU largely memorializes existing practice, particularly in proceedings following the collapse of Enron and the subprime and credit market dislocation, change may not be immediately apparent to regulated entities.  A copy of the press release and MOU are available through the SEC’s web site at http://sec.gov/news/press/2008/2008-154.htm.