The case of an insurance firm chief, successfully chased for a fine payment through the UK courts by the Dubai Financial Services Authority, proves "you can run but you can’t hide", an analyst said.
Wayne Jones, a partner at law firm Clyde & Co, was commenting on the case of Andrew Grimes, the former head of insurance company Clements Dubai Limited (CDL), who failed to pay a DFSA-issued fine of $52,500 (Dh192,675) and was pursued through courts in the UK.
“This is the first time the DFSA appears to have successfully pursued someone outside the country for a fine that they have imposed as a result of a regulatory breach,” said Mr Jones.
Mr Grimes was originally fined by the DFSA, the Dubai International Financial Centre's independent regulator, in May 2017 for providing prohibited insurance intermediation services and failing to ensure his clients were onboarded properly. According to the DFSA, Mr Grimes also failed to ensure his business complied with DIFC legislation and he misled the regulatory body. As well as a fine, the company head was barred from offering financial services in or from the DIFC.
Mr Grimes did not challenge the judgement but when he failed to pay by the due date, a judgment passed by the DIFC Courts’ Court of First Instance in May last year enforced the payment, allowing them to pursue the case overseas.
In a Monday statement issued by the DFSA, the regulator said it had successfully enforced a fine of Dh192,675 first imposed on Mr Grimes in May 2017.
"The DFSA ensures that there are real and significant consequences for firms and individuals not complying with our rules while operating in or from the DIFC," said Bryan Stirewalt, chief executive of the DFSA. "We are committed to our statutory objectives and will take all available and appropriate steps to rigorously enforce any fine we have imposed on a person, regardless of the location of the person or the person’s assets.”
According to DFSA documents, Mr Grimes was the head of the DFSA-authorised insurance management and mediation firm CDL, from April 2013 to September 2014. Among the misdemeanours, the regulator found the company intermediated in 21 insurance contracts for customers with risks in the UAE.
Mr Jones said: “The underlying transgressions related to breaches of the DFSA rulebook for negotiating direct insurance contracts in the UAE without an onshore licence, together with breaches of the DFSA’s anti-money laundering and conduct of business rules, meaning that the company failed to onboard clients correctly and maintain proper records."
Mr Jones said that the DFSA's decision to enforce the fine by pursuing Mr Grimes through the UK courts shows "the DFSA will take extra territorial measures to enforce its notices, judgements and fines that are imposed".
"It’s a message to those involved in the provision of financial services that the DFSA is a responsible regulator and will take steps to enforce its decision wherever you are," he added. "So, you can run but you can’t hide."
Mr Grimes has now paid the fine.