Notice to Members 02-54

NASD Requests Comment on Proposed Amendments to Rules 1014 and 1017

Comment Period Expired September 20, 2002

NASD requests comment on proposed amendments to Rules 1014 and 1017. Rule 1017(a) sets forth certain events relating to changes in a member's ownership, control, or business operations, which require a member to apply and obtain approval from NASD staff. Rule 1014 establishes the standards for approval of both new member applications under Rule 1013 and "continuing member applications" under Rule 1017. NASD is proposing amendments to Rules 1014 and 1017 to clarify and further strengthen NASD's authority under these rules in an effort to stay abreast of market developments.

Specifically, NASD has experienced an increase in member consolidations, business restructurings, and asset sales. NASD has reviewed proposed transactions that could have an adverse effect on the payment of arbitration awards and satisfaction of other customer claims. To address concerns raised in such transactions, NASD seeks comment on amendments to Rules 1014 and 1017 that would: (1) expand NASD's authority to review asset transfers to include any transfer involving a material amount of assets and/or revenues that contribute materially to earnings; (2) require that any seller that is not a member of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) file an application for asset transfers covered by the rule even in the case where the buyer to the transaction is an NYSE member (which currently is a situation excluded from review under Rule 1017); and (3) create a new standard of admission explicitly identifying as decisional criteria unpaid arbitration awards or other adjudicated customer awards, as well as pending arbitration claims by an applicant, its controlling persons, principals, registered representatives, any lender of 5% or more of the applicant's net capital, and any other member with respect to which these persons were a controlling person or a 5% lender of its net capital.

In addition, former members or their associated persons with a significant disciplinary history, including a history of unpaid arbitrations, may later seek to re-enter the securities industry. NASD is concerned about the investor protection issues and the potential adverse impact on the integrity of the marketplace posed by these persons. In this regard, as further outlined below, NASD is requesting comments on an amendment that would place the burden on applicants to demonstrate that their applications should be approved notwithstanding that the applicant has a history of certain regulatory events.

NASD further seeks comment on whether Rule 1014 should be amended to include reference to entities as controlling persons in light of the fact that NASD's current definition of "associated persons" does not include non-natural persons.

Questions regarding this Notice to Members may be directed to the NASD Office of General Counsel, Regulatory Policy and Oversight, at (202) 728-8071; or the NASD Member Regulation Department, Regulatory Policy and Oversight, at (202) 728-8221.