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Altering the Settlement Date on Transactions in "When-Issued" Securities

The Board has received inquiries concerning situations in which a municipal securities dealer alters the settlement date on transactions in "when-issued" securities. In particular, the Board has been made aware of a situation in which a dealer sells a "when-issued" security but accepts the customer’s money prior to the new issue settlement date and specifies on the confirmation for the transaction a settlement date that is weeks before the actual settlement date of the issue. The dealer apparently does this in order to put the customer’s money "to work" as soon as possible. The Board is of the view that this situation is one in which a customer deposits a free credit balance with the dealer and then, using this balance, purchases securities on the actual settlement date. The dealer pays interest on the free credit balance at the same rate as the securities later purchased by the customer.

Rule G-17 provides that

In the conduct of its municipal securities business, each broker, dealer, and municipal securities dealer shall deal fairly with all persons and shall not engage in any deceptive, dishonest, or unfair practice.

The Board believes that this practice would violate rule G-17 if the customer is not advised that the interest received on the free credit balance would probably be taxable. In addition, the Board notes that a dealer that specifies a fictitious settlement date on a confirmation would violate rule G-15(a) which requires that the settlement date be included on customer confirmations.