SEC issues No-Action Letter on Loan Provision

On June 20, 2016 the SEC Division of Investment Management issued a “no action” letter (NAL) to Fidelity Management & Research Co et al. (Fidelity) on an independence issue that has recently received some press.  The NAL was in response to Fidelity’s request that the SEC not take enforcement action against the company and certain of its affiliates for its auditor’s noncompliance with an SEC independence rule that prohibits the auditor from having a loan with a greater than ten percent shareholder of a Fidelity entity (subject to certain conditions that Fidelity and the auditor have satisfied).  The SEC Staff agreed to not pursue action against the company, subject to the conditions noted in the letter, for a period of eighteen (18) months after which the assurance may or may not be renewed.  The NAL noted that the Division of Investment Management consulted with the SEC’s Office of the Chief Accountant and Division of Corporate Finance in developing its analysis.