The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Gate Building. Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) the regulator of DIFC on Sunday fined Ajay Arora, Senior Executive Officer (SEO) of Morgan Gatsby Limited (MGL) $87,500. Image Credit: JAVED NAWAB/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) on Sunday announced that it has fined Ajay Arora $87,500 (approximately Dh321,000), prohibited him from holding office or being an employee of a regulated DIFC firm, and restricted him from performing any functions in connection with the provision of Financial Services in or from the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

The DFSA has taken this action against Arora due to his role in multiple serious breaches of DFSA legislation. In particular, Arora executed client transactions without authorisation and engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct towards those clients and the DFSA. Among other things, the DFSA found that Arora contravened the DFSA’s principles for authorisediIndividuals by failing to observe high standards of integrity and fair dealing.

Arora has been the Senior Executive Officer (SEO) of Morgan Gatsby Limited (MGL) since March 2013, when the DFSA licenced MGL. In that role, he had ultimate responsibility for the day-to-day management, supervision and control of MGL’s financial services business. Arora was directly involved in MGL’s financial services business, and engaged with its Clients.

Rule breaches

The DFSA found that Arora and MGL continued to engage in misconduct, despite concerns about rule breaches being brought to his attention on numerous occasions from 2016 onward by both the DFSA and MGL’s compliance function. Despite these repeated warnings, Arora did not take sufficient action to stop the misconduct or to improve the firm’s systems and controls.

Certain of the contraventions relate to MGL’s dealings with two Clients. Arora (on behalf of MGL) effected transactions on behalf of these Clients without the Clients’ knowledge or authorisation. According to DFSA Arora also engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to these transactions by providing false or misleading information about the transactions to the Clients, or concealing the transactions from the Clients. One of the transactions was carried out despite the Client having given explicit instructions to the contrary.

“We hold Authorised Individuals, particularly SEOs, to the highest standards of integrity in discharging their responsibilities for the management, supervision and control of an Authorised Firm. Arora did not meet these standards, even after he was repeatedly notified of compliance concerns regarding MGL’s activities,” said Bryan Stirewalt, the Chief Executive of the DFSA.

Arora also failed to comply with a DFSA direction to keep the DFSA’s investigation confidential, and provided misleading and deceptive information to the DFSA regarding this failure, the regulator said in a statement.

The DFSA considered Arora’s request for a reduction in the amount of the fine on the grounds of financial hardship, and agreed to reduce the fine imposed on him on these grounds. Arora also agreed to settle the DFSA’s action at an early stage of the DFSA investigation and, therefore, qualified for a reduction of the fine under the DFSA’s policy for early settlement. “Were it not for the reductions for financial hardship and for early settlement, the DFSA would have imposed a fine of $187,500 (approximately AED689,000) on Arora,” DFSA said in a statement.

“The DFSA will take strong action against individuals who breach the DFSA’s legislation, and will pursue stronger action yet where misconduct continues despite warnings,” said Stirewalt.