Frank backpedals on PE registration comment

On a Harvard panel, the former Congressman said he ‘may have misspoken’ in his speech at the PEI CFOs Forum when he said that the $150m threshold for GPs to become SEC registered advisers was too low.

Speaking at a panel during a Harvard University conference, former Congressman Barney Frank backtracked on influential comments he made at the PEI CFOs & COOs Forum in late January.

Frank, a driving force behind the Dodd-Frank bill, said in January that Congress should “look at” the $150 million threshold the bill currently uses to determine the size a private fund adviser can reach before becoming subject to oversight by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

“In the crisis situation, we erred on the side of maybe being too inclusive…I would seriously recommend that they look at raising that amount,” Frank said at the PEI conference in response to an audience member who asked if, looking back, he would raise the $150 million threshold.

“In fact, I would be inclined to give more discretion, even, to the regulators. I would set a number and give the SEC the power to adjust it – upward, in particular – after a certain period of years,” he added.

At a panel on corruption held by Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, an audience member asked Frank for follow-up on his comments at the PEI forum, but Frank said he did not remember making them.

“First of all, I don’t fully recall that,” he said. “I honestly don’t remember that. I may have misspoken…I may have misunderstood the question.”

Frank left Congress in 2013 but is still a leading consultant on the landmark financial reform bill as Republicans wage a campaign to repeal some of its key elements.

The Harvard audience member noted the influence that Frank’s January comments had on the industry and pressed Frank for more information, but Frank maintained that he did not recall his statements.

“I have to tell you I just do not remember the specifics,” he said.