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Friday, September 30, 2005

Atkins Questions Hedge Fund Registration

by: Sean Hanna, Editor in Chief

New rules that require hedge funds to register with the SEC risk sapping the SEC's ability to monitor the fund industry, one of the five commishes said Thursday. Commissioner Paul Atkins used a speaking slot at the Managed Funds Association meeting to warn that the rule risk stretching the Commissions resources too thin to properly watch the fund industry.

"Just as some of you are working hard to prepare to deal with us, we at the SEC are struggling to get ready to deal with you," Atkins told the hedge fund executives at the conference. "We have neither the resources nor the expertise to oversee all of the potential new registrants."

He also worried that the SEC will not be able to watch the fund industry as closely if its staff must also examine hedge funds. Currently, Atkins said there are some 500 SEC examination staffers who monitor 8,000 mutual funds and 8,000 registered investment advisers. Adding hedge funds will put another 1,260 advisers on the SEC's plate, he added.

Atkins, one of the two Republican commissioners, had opposed the rules along with Cynthia Glassman when they were first opposed. The rules were approved when then-SEC Chairman William Donaldson sided with the Commission's two Democrats.

Some had hoped that newly seated chairman Christopher Cox, also a Republican, would suspend the rule that is required to take affect on February 1. However, Cox recently made public statements in support of the rule.

Atkins also made remarks in support of Cox.

"Chairman Cox comes to the job as an insightful, engaged, enthusiastic leader. I anticipate that we will see a renewed, receptive attitude to the benefits of an economic, cost-benefit analytical approach to regulation overall," Atkins told the MFA. "As a consequence, I hope that we will see a reasoned approach towards the implementation of the hedge-fund rule."  

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