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Sarah Clarke QC acts for the Dubai Financial Services Authority in ground breaking enforcement case.

20th July 2018

Sarah Clarke QC acts for the Dubai Financial Services Authority in ground breaking enforcement case against Al Ramz Capital LLC and its former Head of IT – Najim Al Attar for serious failures to provide complete and accurate information relevant to a DFSA investigation which commenced in 2014.

The DFSA imposed a fine of USD 205,200 (AED 753,084) on Al Ramz, which is a recognised member of NASDAQ Dubai. Al Ramz is also required to pay USD 100,000 (AED 367,000) towards the DFSA’s investigation costs. In addition, the DFSA imposed a fine of USD 32,640 (AED 119,789) against Mr Al Attar.

The DFSA’s action follows an investigation that initially focused on trading on NASDAQ Dubai by Al Ramz and others, which the DFSA suspected may have breached Part 6 of the DIFC Markets Law 2012. The DFSA later expanded the scope of its investigation to include further suspected contraventions, including obstructing the DFSA’s investigation and providing information which was false, misleading and deceptive.

While the trading in question was eventually found not to be in breach of Part 6 of the DIFC Markets Law 2012, the DFSA found that during the investigation Al Ramz had failed to comply fully with requirements to provide the DFSA with information relevant to the investigation and deal with the DFSA in an open and cooperative manner.  Al Ramz’s misconduct included:

  • misleading the DFSA about the users of computers used by two Al Ramz brokers at the time of the trading in question;
  • selectively withholding from the DFSA certain material communications (including emails and recordings of telephone calls) relevant to certain trading;
  • failing to disclose that a member of Al Ramz’s senior management was centrally involved in such trading; and
  • failing to disclose close family relationships between the Al Ramz client connected to the trading and certain senior members of Al Ramz’s staff, including its senior management.

In relation to Mr Al Attar, the DFSA found that he:

  • engaged in conduct intended to obstruct the DFSA in the exercise of its powers, without having a reasonable excuse for doing so; and
  • provided information that was false or misleading to the DFSA, and concealed information where the concealment of such information was likely to mislead the DFSA.

Mr Al Attar’s misconduct included:

  • reconfiguring computers of two Al Ramz brokers and providing these to the DFSA while claiming falsely that they were the computers used by the brokers at the time of the trading in question. In so doing, Mr Al Attar attempted to mislead the DFSA into believing they were the computers used by the brokers when that was not the case;
  • altering the email account of one of the Al Ramz brokers in an attempt to remove all email messages sent or received by that broker for the relevant period and conceal them from the DFSA;
  • deleting relevant electronic data collected during a DFSA inspection visit;
  • refusing to provide the DFSA with certain relevant electronic data stored on Al Ramz’s IT system, and instructing a junior member of Al Ramz’s IT team not to provide the DFSA with such data; and
  • providing false and misleading information to the DFSA regarding Al Ramz’s IT system.

The case is significant because it is one of the first Enforcement cases under the new DFSA Enforcement process and demonstrates that the DFSA treats such failures seriously and is prepared to pursue firms and individuals who fall short of its expectations even where the conduct which gave rise to the original investigation does not itself result in disciplinary action.

Sarah Clarke QC acted for the DFSA throughout the original market abuse investigation and subsequent obstruction case and represented the DFSA at the Decision Making Committee hearing.  The case demonstrates the increasingly International focus of our Business and Specialist Crime Team.

For further information click here: DFSAThe National and ZAWYA


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