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July 23, 2002
Labor Department Amends EXPRO
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U. S. Department of Labor's Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration (PWBA) finalized an amendment to Prohibited Transaction Exemption (PTE) 96-62, known as EXPRO, a DOL press release announced earlier this month. This class exemption will streamline the process for parties to seek authorization from the department to engage in certain prohibited transactions.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) allows the department to grant exemptions from all or any part of the restrictions imposed by ERISA's prohibited transaction provisions.

According to the Department of Labor, PTE 96-62 currently requires that applicants demonstrate to PWBA that their proposed transactions are substantially similar to transactions in at least two exemptions previously granted by the department within five years of their submission.

The success of the EXPRO program to date has resulted in fewer granted exemptions that may be cited by applicants who want to take advantage of the expedited process under EXPRO. Therefore, the department amended EXPRO to provide applicants with more cases on which to base their transactions.

The amendment to EXPRO will allow applicants to cite, as substantially similar, either two individual exemptions granted by the department within the previous five years, or one individual exemption granted within the past 10 years and a transaction "authorized" under the EXPRO exemption within the past five years, the press release reports.

Over 180 EXPRO transactions have been authorized as of June 2002. EXPRO has significantly reduced the number of individual exemptions relating to routine transactions, thus allowing applicants to receive exemptions in a more timely fashion and often saving them the cost of going through the more formal process for exemptions.

The final amended exemption is to be published in the July 3, 2002 Federal Register.

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