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U.S. House panel to vote on swaps regulator mandate

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[April 08, 2014]  By Douwe Miedema

WASHINGTON (Reuters)  Four U.S. lawmakers launched a bill on Monday to rewrite the rules of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), giving more leeway to smaller players in the derivative markets it oversees.

The agency became one of the most prolific reformers of Wall Street after the financial crisis under its previous Chairman Gary Gensler, who was frequently criticized for his hard-nosed style and sometimes-hasty adoption of new rules.

In a so-called reauthorization bill to fine-tune the CFTC's mandate, the chairman and the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee drew up a list of changes to many of the controversial rules the agency has written.

"The CFTC's rulemaking process has been less than ideal. The rulemaking process has proven confusing," the four lawmakers launching the bill said in a statement.

Frank Lucas, the Republican from Oklahoma who chairs the Committee, and Collin Peterson, the ranking member from Minnesota, said they hoped the committee would adopt the bill at a hearing on Wednesday.

The CFTC needs to be reauthorized every five years, though it has in the past gone for several years without that stamp of approval. The launch of the bill is the first step of what will likely be a drawn-out process to get it through Congress.

The CFTC was a little-watched overseer of agriculture and other futures before the crisis, but the 2010 Dodd-Frank law put it in charge of the $690 trillion swaps market, dominated by large investment banks such as JP Morgan Chase & Co, Citibank and Bank of America.

The bill has three titles: one to better protect customers in futures markets, one to reform the CFTC and one to fine-tune changes in the swaps market for those clients who use it to hedge risk, and not to speculate.

(Editing by Ken Wills and Eric Meijer)

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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