Justice Department Issues Favorable Business Review Letter to Institute of International Finance for Sovereign Debt Information Sharing Principles


The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division announced today that it has completed its review of the proposal by the Institute of International Finance (IIF) to promulgate voluntary guidelines, called the Principles for Debt Transparency (Principles), allowing for public disclosure of information regarding the issuance of sovereign debt. Based on the representations in IIF’s letter request, including its description of certain safeguards, the department has concluded that the Principles are unlikely to harm competition. Therefore, the department does not presently intend to challenge IIF’s proposed Principles.

“IIF’s proposed Principles will enhance transparency in the market for sovereign debt,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Department of Justice Antitrust Division. “IIF has put in place safeguards to avoid harm to competition, such as making the Principles voluntary, delaying the release of information, and grouping specific price terms (such as interest rates) into more general ranges.”

According to the department’s business review letter, IIF represents a wide constituency in the international finance industry, including approximately 450 members from 70 countries, that had input into the proposed Principles. The department’s business review letter recognizes that the current sovereign debt market often lacks transparency, which can lead to increased transaction costs and less efficient pricing. IIF’s proposed Principles attempt to remedy those issues by allowing for voluntary and delayed disclosure of some terms from the issuance of sovereign debt.

Under the department’s business review procedure, an organization may submit a proposed action to the Antitrust Division and receive a statement as to whether the department currently intends to challenge the action under the antitrust laws based on the information provided. The department reserves the right to challenge the proposed action under the antitrust laws if the actual operation of the proposed conduct proves to be anticompetitive in purpose or effect.

Copies of the business review request and the department’s response are available on the Antitrust Division’s website at https://www.justice.gov/atr/business-review-letters-and-request-letters, as well as in a file maintained by the Antitrust Documents Group of the Antitrust Division. After a 30-day waiting period, any documents supporting the business review will be added to the file, unless a basis for their exclusion for reasons of confidentiality has been established under the business review procedure. Supporting documents in the file will be maintained for a period of one year, and copies will be available upon request to the FOIA/Privacy Act Unit, Antitrust Documents Group at atrdocs.grp@usdoj.gov.

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