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Date Ref. Title Section Type Download Info Summary Related Documents Translated versions
21/07/2016 2016/1157 Press release- ESMA fines Fitch Ratings Limited €1.38 million , Press Release PDF
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30/06/2016 2016/1047 Press Release Prospectus Peer Review , Press Release PDF
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12/05/2016 ESA/2016/41 Opinion of the ESAs- ECAI credit assessments , Opinion PDF
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07/04/2016 2016/582 ESMA finds room for improvement in national supervision of investment advice to retail clients , , Press Release PDF
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29/03/2016 2016/406 ESMA publishes report on EU accounting enforcement in 2015 , , , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published its annual report on the enforcement and regulatory activities of accounting enforcers within the European Union (EU) in 2015. ESMA continued strengthening supervisory convergence in the area of financial reporting to improve the consistency and quality across the EU, notably by issuing guidelines, publishing statements on areas of focus and coordinating enforcement decisions.

ESMA and national enforcers examined 189 listed issuers’ compliance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), across 26 countries, in the areas identified by the 2014 European Common Enforcement Priorities. The examination resulted in enforcement action against 40 (21%) issuers with regulators finding shortcomings in the disclosure of assumptions and judgements related to the:

  • recognition, measurement and disclosures of deferred tax assets arising from tax losses;
  • assessment of control over an entity in the absence of majority equity interest or majority shareholding rights; and
  • classification of joint arrangements.

National enforcers also reviewed the interim or annual financial statements of around 1,200 issuers, representing approximately 20% of issuers of securities listed on EU regulated markets, which led to action against 273 (25%) of those issuers examined. Enforcers found the main deficiencies were related to the presentation of financial statements, impairment of non-financial assets and accounting for financial instruments.

11/02/2016 2016/284 ESMA publishes first supervisory convergence work programme , , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published its first Supervisory Convergence Work Programme 2016 (SCWP), which details the activities and tasks it will carry out to promote sound, efficient and consistent supervision across the European Union.

The publication of the SCWP expands on the high-level objective outlined in the Annual Work Programme 2016 and fulfils a key commitment in ESMA’s Strategic Orientation 2016-2020 to outline how it would refocus its resources from single rulebook to supervisory convergence work.

05/02/2016 2016/247 ESMA to focus on governance, strategy, data and fees in 2016 supervision , , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has today published its 2016 supervisory priorities for credit rating agencies (CRAs) and trade repositories (TRs), as well as its annual report summarising the key supervisory work and actions undertaken during 2015.

2016 Supervisory Priorities

ESMA has seen a number of changes in the CRA and TR industries during 2015, with new applicants for registration in both sectors, and current authorised entities seeking to develop their businesses. This has included CRAs providing credit ratings on new asset classes or in new geographic areas, and TRs offering trade reporting services for other instrument types.

ESMA identifies its supervisory priorities on the basis of risk assessment exercises conducted throughout the year. In 2015 these identified high levels of governance and strategy risk, and operational risk in the CRA industry and high levels of risk associated with TRs’ data and systems. Therefore, in 2016 ESMA will focus its supervisory activities on:

  • CRA governance and strategy and the quality of credit ratings;
  • TR data quality and data access;
  • Fees charged and information security for all supervised entities.

Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, said:

“The credit rating and trade repository industries continue to evolve and develop. We are receiving new applications for registration and existing entities are seeking to develop their businesses by expanding into new areas. ESMA supports these developments where they contribute to the maintenance of stable and orderly financial markets.

“For this reason, in 2016 ESMA will focus its work on the quality of the services being provided by supervised entities. This means we will concentrate on issues surrounding CRA governance, strategy and ratings quality, along with data quality and access to TRs’ data with a broad focus on the fee structures and information security in both industries.”

2015 Annual Supervisory Review – CRAs and TRs

In 2015, following its risk-based approach, ESMA focused its supervisory efforts on CRAs’ governance, risk management and internal decision making and on CRAs’ business development processes. Some notable achievements were:

  • investigating the techniques being applied to validate credit rating methodologies by some CRAs and using the differences identified to encourage industry-wide debate about appropriate validation standards;
  • conducting an IT risk assessment which identified that CRAs are facing serious risks in several areas including IT operations and information security;
  • investigating the process of issuing credit ratings followed by one CRA and raising concerns about the preparation of issue ratings, the workloads of credit rating analysts and their involvement in the provision of ancillary services; and
  • concluding an enforcement case against DBRS Ratings Ltd for internal control failings and imposing a €30,000 fine for past record-keeping breaches. The case highlighted the need for CRAs to establish clear decision-making procedures, organisational structures and effective compliance functions.

The key risks TR supervision focused on in 2015 related to the quality of TRs’ data, access to data held by TRs and the operation and performance of TRs’ systems. In 2015, ESMA continued working with TRs to implement the data quality action plan established in September 2014 including:

  • harmonising TRs’ data validation;
  • monitoring the inter-TR reconciliation process; and
  • ensuring the harmonisation of the aggregate data made available on TRs’ websites.

ESMA has also been monitoring National Competent Authorities’ (NCAs) access to TR data. It has entered into a number of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) to help third country regulatory authorities access TR data and is developing an IT system to allow NCAs to submit data queries through a centralised web portal.

02/10/2015 2015/1483 ESMA sees progress in reform of EU credit rating industry , Press Release PDF
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29/06/2015 2015/1050 Press Release- ESMA fines DBRS Ratings Ltd. for internal control failings , Press Release PDF
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25/02/2015 2015/495 ESMA publishes review on best execution supervisory practices under MiFID , , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has conducted a peer review on how national regulators (national competent authorities or NCAs) supervise and enforce the MiFID provisions relating to investment firms’ obligation to provide best execution, or obtain the best possible result, for their clients when executing their orders. ESMA found that the level of implementation of best execution provisions, as well as the level of convergence of supervisory practices by NCAs, is relatively low. In order to address this situation a number of improvements were identified, including: . prioritisation of best execution as a key conduct of business supervisory issue; . the allocation of sufficient resources to best execution supervision; and . a more proactive supervisory approach to monitoring compliance with best execution requirements, both desk-based and onsite inspections. The review was conducted on the basis of information provided by 29 NCAs and complemented by on-site visits to the NCAs of France, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland and Spain.
16/02/2015 2015/281 Press Release- ESMA publishes annual report and supervisory focus for CRAs and TRs , , , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published today an annual report (Report) on its direct supervisory activities in 2014 regarding credit rating agencies (CRAs) and trade repositories (TR). The report summarises the key actions taken during 2014 and outlines ESMA’s supervisory work plans for both sectors for 2015.
16/12/2014 2014/1525 Press Release- Improvements needed in CRAs surveillance of structured finance credit ratings , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published a report on the findings of its investigation into the way credit rating agencies (CRA) conduct surveillance of their structured finance credit ratings. The investigation, which took place between October 2013 and September 2014, was prompted by the continued relevance of structured finance products and the high outstanding volume in issuance. It focused on the four largest CRAs providing credit ratings on these finance instruments in the EU – DBRS Ratings, Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Services and Standard & Poor’s – which account for almost 100% of the total outstanding credit ratings on EU structured finance instruments. In its investigation ESMA identified a number of shortcomings in several areas affecting the surveillance of structured finance ratings for the CRAs investigated. ESMA also identified weaknesses on the level of disclosure and transparency which could be detrimental to investor protection. ESMA has not determined whether any of the Report’s findings constitute a breach of the CRA Regulation, and may take action as appropriate in due course.Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, said: “ESMA’s investigation has found shortcomings in CRAs’ processes for the surveillance of structured finance credit ratings which could affect the quality of the ratings. These concerns centred on information quality controls, the application of CRAs’ methodologies and the related disclosure as well as the timely completion of the credit ratings annual review.  Issues were also identified in relation to the role and independence of the internal review function. “The high volume of issued structured finance instruments and renewed interest in securitisation as an alternative funding source make the results of this review all the more timely. “All registered CRAs should take note of the problems identified and ensure that they properly incorporate the requirements and objectives of the CRA Regulation into their working practices in order to ensure the quality of credit ratings and maintain investor confidence. The good practices identified in the Report can help with that improvement.”   ESMA has requested that CRAs put in place the remedial action plans to solve the individual concerns identified. ESMA will follow up with each of the CRAs subject to this investigation. Likewise, ESMA will monitor all other registered CRAs as part of its on-going supervision.
11/12/2014 2014/1478 ESMA reviews supervisory practices on MiFID investor information , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has conducted a peer review of how national regulators (national competent authorities or NCAs) supervise MiFID conduct of business rules on providing fair, clear and not misleading information to clients. The peer review focused on NCAs’ organisation, supervisory approaches, monitoring and complaints handling in relation to information and marketing communications under MiFID. The Report found that there was overall a high degree of compliance amongst NCAs with the good practices identified in these key areas. However, a variety of approaches were observed, leading to different intensity of supervision. A number of areas for improvement were identified. They include: enhanced use of on-site inspections and thematic reviews; a specific focus on conduct of business issues in firms’ risk assessments; and greater efforts to detect failings by firms in a timely manner. The review was conducted on the basis of information provided by NCAs in a self-assessment questionnaire and complemented by on-site visits to the NCAs of Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and the United Kingdom. Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, said: “Providing fair, clear and not misleading information to clients is essential for investor protection and should be applied consistently throughout the EU. This review is a major step forward in ensuring that progress is being made towards convergence in this area by national regulators. “The report provides a thorough insight and analysis of national supervisory practices, facilitated by ESMA’s first on-site visits, and includes a number of recommendations which I urge national regulators to consider when reviewing their practices in this area”. Key Findings The review’s key findings covered the following areas: Ex-ante and ex-post supervision – supervisory systems are divided between ex-ante and ex-post reviews of marketing material. Within the ex-post approach there is also divergence in terms of the timeliness with which NCAs review the material following its dissemination and consider complaints made by clients of firms; Direct and indirect supervision – while some NCAs directly supervise firms’ compliance with their obligations relating to the provision of information and marketing material to clients, others rely on annual checks performed by external auditors. The latter approach may make it difficult to detect failings by firms in a timely manner due to the successive sampling process employed by auditors and then the NCA?s concerned; Complaints and Sanctions – a low level of complaints and equally low level of sanctions are reported by NCAs in the area of information and marketing to clients; and Definition of information and marketing communication - There is no precise definition of the term marketing communication in EU law: this would need to be further defined in order to build effective convergence of supervisory practices. Recommendations for future work The Report identifies a number of areas for future work by NCAs and ESMA which could promote a more coherent cross-EU application of the requirements. These include: establishing more robust structures and efficient coordination and cooperation arrangements between different supervisory units within NCAs; defining a clear set of information and marketing material to be supervised; assessing the frequency of NCAs’ monitoring of investor information and marketing; assessing the adequacy of monitoring the distribution channels used by firms including in the cross border provision of services; requiring investment firms to submit to their NCAs details of all information and marketing material to be provided including material used for cross-border business; considering the use of integrated databases to assist in supervision of information and marketing to clients; assessing the frequency and consistency of the use of sanctions by NCAs; and assessing the implementation and effectiveness of the guidelines for complaints-handling for the securities (ESMA) and banking (EBA) sectors. In addition, ESMA should continue its efforts, including the use of Opinions, in promoting the development of a level-playing field regarding the provision of information in an understandable format to clients and the quality of service to clients.
24/06/2014 2014/689 ESMA publishes draft RTS on CRA3 transparency requirements , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published its Final Report on draft Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) required under the Credit Rating Agencies (CRA3) Regulation regarding information on transparency of structured finance instruments, the European Rating Platform and periodic reporting of fees charged by credit rating agencies. The draft RTS, which complement the existing regulatory framework for credit rating agencies (CRAs), cover: • disclosure requirements on structured finance instruments (SFIs); • the European Rating Platform (ERP); and • the periodic reporting on fees charged by CRAs. Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, said: “The enhanced transparency requirements set out in these draft Regulatory Technical Standards regarding structured finance instruments, CRAs’ fees and ratings will improve the information available to both investors and supervisors. “Their implementation will contribute to a reduction in conflicts of interest, improved investor protection and market stability, and greater competition between CRAs.”
03/06/2014 2014/596 ESMA censures Standard & Poor’s for internal control failings , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has issued a public notice censuring Standard & Poor’s Credit Market Services France SAS and Standard & Poor’s Credit Market Services Europe Limited (S&P) for breaches of Regulation 1060/2009 (CRA Regulation). The decision by ESMA to issue a public notice results from its investigation into the erroneous publication on 10 November 2011 by S&P, to the subscribers of its Global Credit Portal, of an email stating “France (Republic of) (Unsolicited Ratings): DOWNGRADE”, although S&P’s rating of France had not been downgraded. ESMA found that this incident was the result of a failure by S&P to meet certain organisational requirements set out in the CRA Regulation, relating to sound internal control mechanisms, effective control and safeguard arrangements for information processing systems and decision-making procedures and organisational structures. ESMA, based on the provisions of the CRA Regulation, decided that the relevant breaches warranted a supervisory measure in the form of a public notice. The final decision on the supervisory measure took into account the steps taken by S&P to end the infringement and was considered proportionate to the seriousness of the breach. Case Background S&P, on 10 November 2011 at 15:57 CET, erroneously released to subscribers of its web-based Global Credit Portal (GCP) an email alert which stated in its header “France (Republic of) (Unsolicited Ratings): DOWNGRADE”, although S&P’s credit rating of France had not changed. GCP is one of the methods used by S&P to disseminate its credit ratings and other financial information products. Among other services, it provides an email alert function that a subscriber can customise in order to receive alerts when certain information changes on GCP, e.g. in case S&P decides to change a credit rating on a particular issuer. S&P’s internal database, where it maintained its credit ratings, was also used to store its Banking Industry Country Risk Assessments (BICRAs). BICRAs are not credit ratings but assessments of the banking systems in particular countries and have been published since 2006. S&P later decided to maintain BICRAs in the same centralised internal database as its credit ratings and to display BICRAs on GCP. The relevant technical specifications for this project treated BICRAs as ratings and no effective action was taken to address the implications this could have. This eventually led to the erroneous release when an attempt to change an incorrect display of France’s BICRA on GCP triggered an email alert stating in its header that the rating of France had been downgraded. ESMA’s Role Since July 2011 ESMA has been responsible for the regulation of credit rating agencies in the European Union including their registration and supervision in line with the requirements of the CRA Regulation. ESMA has the power to take appropriate enforcement action where it discovers a breach of the CRA Regulation, ranging from the issuance of public notices to the withdrawal of registration and imposition of fines.
21/02/2014 2014/212 Press release- ESMA sets out CRA supervision focus for 2014 Press Release PDF
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ESMA sets out CRA supervision focus for 2014 The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published its Annual Report 2013 (Report) on credit rating agencies (CRAs) in the European Union (EU). The Report also outlines ESMA’s supervisory work plan for this year. ESMA has found that CRAs continue to progress in how they comply with the CRA Regulation, including improved internal transparency and disclosure to the market on credit rating activities as well as empowerment of the compliance function. However, ESMA considers that improvements are still necessary, notably in the following areas: validation of rating methodologies, to ensure that a credit rating assessment is a comprehensive risk assessment leading to high quality ratings; internal governance, ensuring the full independence of the internal review function and thereby reducing the risk of potential conflict of interest; and robust IT systems to support the rating process, including information security controls and protection of confidential rating information. These issues form the basis for much of ESMA’s supervision activities as outlined in its 2014 work plan. This includes the completion of the two on-going supervisory reviews into CRAs’ monitoring of structured finance ratings and into small and medium-sized CRAs. A new thematic investigation on how CRAs review and validate their rating methodologies will also be launched, as well as dedicated work on CRAs’ IT systems and controls. Following the entry into force of the amended CRA Regulation in June 2013, ESMA will also complete a specific assessment on CRAs’ compliance with the new regulatory requirements. Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, said: “ESMA is in its third year as the EU’s CRA regulator and today’s report provides us with an assessment of the progress made to date. However, as shown by our recent work on sovereign ratings there are still issues around governance as well as independence,objectivity and quality of the rating process that need to be remedied in order to restore market confidence in CRAs and their ratings. “We will continue to proactively and intrusively supervise CRAs and work with them to address their shortcomings. This will contribute to building confidence in the transparency and smooth functioning of EU financial markets while ensuring a high level of financial consumer protection.” The 2013 Report summarises how ESMA fulfilled its role as the supervisor of CRAs in the EU. It covers ESMA’s supervisory activities, progress in dealing with registrations, and its policy work in relation to existing and new legislative requirements. In particular, the Report focuses on the results of ESMA’s supervisory work through on-going supervision as well as thematic reviews, such as that into the sovereign ratings process of a number of CRAs, the inspections of small and medium-sized CRAs and a further inspection of the ratings publication controls in a single CRA.
11/02/2014 2014/165 ESMA consults on new CRA transparency requirements Press Release PDF
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02/12/2013 2013/1790 ESMA identifies deficiencies in CRAs sovereign ratings processes Press Release PDF
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ESMA identifies deficiencies in CRAs sovereign ratings processes The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published a Report identifying a number of deficiencies in the processes for producing and issuing sovereign ratings at the three largest credit rating agencies (CRAs), Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s. The Report follows an investigation carried out by ESMA into the sovereign rating processes at the three CRAs, between February and October 2013. The investigation was prompted by concerns about potential conflicts of interests, the impact of sovereign ratings on other types of ratings, CRAs’ capacity to cope with the number of rating actions during a period of high volatility, the use of bulk rating actions, and issues around the confidentiality and timing of rating actions. The investigation focused on the governance and organisation of sovereign rating activities, the adequacy and expertise of allocated human resources, the disclosure of rating information to the public, and ensuring its confidentiality before disclosure. ESMA identified deficiencies and issues for improvement in the following areas: • Independence and avoidance of conflicts of interests; • Confidentiality of sovereign rating information; • Timing of publication of rating actions; and • Resources allocated to sovereign ratings. ESMA has not determined whether any of the Report’s findings constitute a breach of the CRA Regulation, and may take action as appropriate in due course. Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, said: “ESMA’s investigation revealed shortcomings in the sovereign ratings process which could pose risks to the quality, independence and integrity of the ratings and of the rating process. “The focus on the sovereign rating process in this investigation stems from their increased volatility over the past few years, the importance of sovereign ratings from a credit market and financial stability perspective, and their impact on other rated entities and products. “The impact which changes in these ratings can have on financial markets, and sovereign states, can be significant. Therefore, it is imperative that users can have confidence that the CRAs have adequate systems and controls in place to ensure that ratings are rigorous, free from conflicts of interest and timely. “The CRAs who were subject to this investigation still need to make improvements in their working practices to ensure their full compliance with the CRA Regulation and to eradicate inadequate practices from the past.” Investigation Findings The key areas where ESMA identified deficiencies requiring remedial actions by the CRAs included the following areas and related issues: 1. Independence and avoidance of conflicts of interests: ESMA has concerns that in a number of areas associated with conflicts of interest and independence, the actual failings or potential risks identified might compromise the independence of the ratings process and the quality of the credit ratings. These include: • the type of involvement of senior management in sovereign rating activities; • the independent review function’s participation in the sovereign rating process; • the research publication activities carried out by CRAs; • the involvement by certain non-rating functions (e.g. communication) in the rating process; and • the implementation of the appeal procedure. 2. Confidentiality of sovereign rating information The investigation identified deficiencies in the way confidential rating information is managed, in particular how access to information on upcoming rating actions on sovereigns is controlled. These include: • the disclosure of upcoming rating actions to an unauthorised third party; • inadequate controls in place for the circulation of rating information within the CRA(s); • the controls around the use of external communication consultants; and • inappropriate permissions and controls to secure access to rating information. 3. Timing of publication of rating actions: The investigation found that there had been instances of significant and frequent delays in the publication of sovereign ratings. ESMA also observed deficiencies in the advance notification to rated entities about upcoming rating actions. 4. Resources allocated to sovereign ratings: ESMA has concerns on the resources dedicated to sovereign ratings, in particular: • the lack of an adequate mechanism to assess the adequacy of resources; • assigning lead analyst responsibilities to junior or newly hired staff; • reliance on junior support staff; and • unclear definitions of functions and responsibilities. A number of good practices were also identified amongst the surveyed firms including analytical training programmes, practices designed to improve challenge in rating committees, and to ensure continuity in the allocation of analysts to sovereign portfolios. ESMA has required the CRAs to put in place remedial action plans to address the issues identified, and will monitor their progress against these plans as part of its on-going supervision.
10/07/2013 2013/924 ESMA launches consultation on implementation of new CRA Regulation , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published a Discussion Paper dealing with the implementation of the CRA3 Regulation, which entered into force on 20 June 2013.The Regulation, which complements the existing regulatory framework for credit rating agencies (CRAs), requires ESMA to draft Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) on:•    disclosure requirements on structured finance instruments (SFIs);•    the European Rating Platform (ERP); and•    the periodic reporting on fees charged by CRAs.ESMA is seeking views from all interested parties in order to assist in its preparation of the draft RTS to be published for consultation in early 2014.  ESMA must submit the draft RTS to the European Commission by 21 June 2014.
01/07/2013 2013/852 ESMA review finds good compliance with EU market abuse rules , , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published a peer review of the supervisory practices EEA national competent authorities (NCAs) apply in enforcing the requirements of the Market Abuse Directive (MAD).  The Directive deals with the prevention of the dissemination of misleading information, the breach of reporting obligations and market abuse.