European Leaders Agree On Hedge Fund Oversight

Feb 23 2009 | 12:34am ET

European heads of state and finance ministers reached accord on a sweeping set of changes to the global financial system, including increased oversight of hedge funds and private equity firms.

At a meeting in Berlin, the leaders of Britain, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Spain agreed on a common stance toward the reshaping of the global economy in advance of April’s G-20 meeting, to be held in London. The president of the European Commission and European central bankers also participated in the summit, which was convened by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“We have today underscored once again our conviction that all financial markets, products and participants must be subject to appropriate oversight or regulation, without exception and regardless of their country of domicile,” the “chair’s summary” of the meeting reads. “This is especially true for those private pools of capital, including hedge funds, that may present a systemic risk.”

The proposals still must win the acquiesce of the world’s other financial powers, most notably the U.S. and Japan. Under former President George W. Bush, the U.S. was reluctant to accede to international regulation of hedge funds, and it is unclear whether President Barack Obama, who is supportive of national hedge fund regulation, will take a different tack.

The European position also includes other features potential distressing to hedge funds and hedge fund managers, including a call to crack down on tax havens.

“According to objective criteria to be based on ongoing work in relevant international institutions, a list of uncooperative jurisdictions and a toolbox of sanctions must be devised as soon as possible,” the summary reads.


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