The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) has said that its investigation into the controversial Abraaj case will be a deterrent for any UAE companies indulging in unlawful activities.
“The DFSA acted quickly and appropriately in the matter. We have turned our attention to investigation. That investigation is well resourced and has all the right people associated with it. And the outcome would be a credible deterrent for any future replication of such activity,” Bryan Stirewalt, chief executive of DFSA told Arabian Business, speaking before the guilty plea entered by the former senior Abraaj execucutive.
Abraaj, which managed almost $14 billion in assets, was forced into liquidation in June after a group of investors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, commissioned an audit to investigate the alleged mismanagement of money in its healthcare fund.
In a recent development of events, Mustafa Abdel-Wadood, a former managing partner, pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and agreed to cooperate with a US investigators after he was arrested apprehended in New York in April.
Abraaj Group founder Arif Naqvi was also arrested in London in April but was released on $20 million bail in May.
“There is conduct issues and prudential issues around the world. No one really is immune. But we continue to evolve,” Stirewalt said when asked about the delay in detention of the alleged fraudsters.
The UAE’s financial sector has witnessed an eventful few years, with consolidation, mergers and acquisitions and fluctuating credit yields.
“The state of the financial sector is stable. Banks are continuing to grow. There’s a lot of consolidation in the sector that looks to be in the positive. As banks merge themselves they can invest in technology,” he said.
However, according to Stirewalt, the main challenge for the country’s financial sector today is the geo-political situation.
“UAE and Dubai is a product of globalisation. Dubai focusses on moving goods and services and people. Any time there is an issue that interrupts the risk profile of globalisation then that has a negative consequence for trade. We would like to see globalisation return to where it was before. We’d like to see tensions calm down so business can continue where it was,” he said.