The senior executive officer at liquidated financial services firm La Tresorerie said that he is “disappointed” with the decisions made by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) after his appeal against a fine and ban were rejected.
In January 2022, the Financial Markets Tribunal (FMT) upheld enforcement action taken by the DFSA against Gilles Rollet for “serious misconduct”. The tribunal ordered him to pay half of the watchdog’s costs after he appealed the penalties handed down by the Dubai regulator in November 2021.
- A fine of $175,000 (£128,092, €151,267);
- A prohibition from holding office in or being an employee of certain DFSA-regulated entities; and
- A restriction from performing any function in connection with the provision of financial services in or from the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).
This came years after the Dubai regulator fined La Tresorerie.
Rollet, who was also a licensed director at the DIFC-based firm, said in a statement on 4 February 2022: “Any company in the financial services sector has to balance the demands of their clients who seek flexibility and income generation with the governance requirements of the respective regulator.
“By operating within compliance boundaries, while also creating facilities that meet the client’s needs, new product or service offerings can operate safely. This is a position that we felt we had reached at La Tresorerie with our procedures. No objections were raised to what we perceived as clearly documented procedures by any of our consultants or the regulators. We are certainly disappointed by the decision of the DFSA.”
In November 2021, the DFSA said that Rollet breached regulatory guidelines due to “his knowing involvement in La Tresorerie unlawfully providing physical cash to its clients”.
The cash service operated between February 2015 and January 2017 and involved “the use of false invoices and transferring client money to unregulated companies outside the DIFC”; and “the occasional transportation of physical cash from the UAE to a foreign country”.
In the January 2022 decision, the FMT said it imposed the sanctions on Rollet because it found that he:
- Was knowingly involved in the wrongdoing arising from La Tresorerie’s provision of the unlawful cash service, as described above;
- Failed to act with integrity;
- Failed to ensure that La Tresorerie’s business was organised so that it could be managed and controlled effectively and to ensure that it complied with DIFC legislation; and
- Provided false and misleading information to the DFSA about his involvement in the unlawful cash service.
But Rollet said, on 4 February 2022: “No clients of La Tresorerie lost any money. No accusations of fraud or wrong-doing took place.
“Ultimately, the manner of the DFSA inquiry with their selective choice of witness testimony, failure to consider the role of compliance officers whose opinion we depended upon, and scope of their proceedings, does not meet fair standards.”
Rollet also said that he relied on the decisions of his advisers and compliance officers and said these individuals “stated retroactively in their testimony that they had concerns about the firm’s cash withdrawal procedures, but never escalated these issues or concerns to La Tresorerie’s board or the DFSA”.
He added that he had no reason to believe that there was a breach of regulation as no one in compliance checks had any objections.
F Christopher Calabia, chief executive of the DFSA, said on 24 January 2022: “The DFSA continues to place a high priority on holding to account senior individuals who are at the centre of wrongdoing by firms.
“As the FMT has pointed out, a senior executive officer should be particularly watchful about all matters of regulation, including smaller but high-risk areas of their business. As an experienced financial services professional, Rollet was well aware of compliance matters and, in particular, the risks of dealing with physical cash.
“The unlawful cash service created client money and financial crime risks that were as obvious as they were unacceptable. Any individual who displays such lack of integrity has no place in financial services in the DIFC.”
International Adviser has contacted the DFSA for a comment, but it did not reply in time for publication.