White collar crime specialists offer hope to those sold risky investments by unlicensed financial advisers
Lawyers say landmark Dubai financial case could help others
Specialist lawyers operating in the world of white collar crime have said the court judgement against a rogue independent financial advisor in Dubai could pave the way for other successful prosecutions.
Neil Grant, an IFA operating from offices in Dubai, sold risky investments to hundreds of expatriates – many of whom have since lost large amounts or all of their retirement savings.
Lawyers at Hadef and Partners in Downtown said certain conditions in the country may have led to a potential environment in which unscrupulous IFAs have been able to operate.
“The UAE is very transient, and people rely on recommendations from friends and family which plays into the hands of the IFAs,” said Mahmoud Awad, a partner at Hadef and Partners, a group of approximately 100 lawyers in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
“There were two elements to this case.
“Firstly, the funds were invested contrary to the requirements of the investor, who wanted a more conservative approach.
“The second was that Grant was not licensed and did not have the experience to provide the service.
“The courts prefer cases that are black and white and show clear wrongdoing. As Grant was not licensed this provided a clear route for prosecution.
“If he had been licensed and experienced, there may well have been a different outcome.
“This particular case has set out a road map for other prosecutions in this area.
“It will help regulators identify wrong doing on behalf of other IFAs. It will give a number of people hope."
Any investigation into wrongdoing will always assess the level of risk that was agreed to, and the kind of investments that were made.
Another major factor that should help investors make a sensible choice of where to go for advice is where the company offering investments is based.
Dubai International Financial Centre is highly regulated, so there is less chance of someone to be operating without a license than elsewhere in a free zone, for example.
“What this case has done, is show what investors should be doing to try and protect themselves in the future,” said Omar al Heloo, partner at Hadef and Partners.
“Because of this judgement, future cases can be built around the way this prosecution was handled and dealt with by the court.”