They have also both been banned from performing any function or being employed by any authorised firm in the QFC for three years.
The sanctions followed investigations which uncovered “serious misconduct” by Howell and Hasberry as approved individuals, according to documents published by the regulator on 3 July 2019.
This is not the first time that Guardian Qatar, which is in liquidation, has fallen foul of the local regulator.
The firm announced it intended to exit the Qatar market in December 2015.
In April 2018, it was hit with a QAR2.5m (£539,340, $678,490, €601,160) fine for contraventions to anti-money laundering/combatting the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) rules.
An additional QAR1.09m was levied for “general regulatory contraventions”.
Guardian was also told to cover the costs and expenses the investigation has incurred.
The company suggested at the time that the fines were in retaliation to its decision to pull out of the country.
It is not clear if the 2018 penalties have been paid or if the recent $200,000 fines against Howell and Hasberry are in lieu of that sum.
International Adviser has reached out to Guardian for a comment but received no response ahead of the publication of this article.
The QFC documents relating to Howell and Hasberry outline identical failings.
The investigations “identified that [Mr Hasberry’s/Mr Howell’s] conduct fell substantially below the principles of conduct for an approved individual in the executive governance function”.
Failing to act with due skill, care and diligence in relation to oversight of Guardian’s compliance with the anti-money laundering and combatting financing rules 2010; and,
Failing to act with due skill, care and diligence in relation to oversight of Guardian’s compliance with the governance and controlled functions rules 2012 and general rules 2005; meaning Guardian failed to:
- Establish an appropriate corporate governance framework,
- Review Guardian Qatar’s risk management and internal controls framework appropriately and with sufficient frequency,
- maintain effective systems and controls for record keeping; and,
- ensure Guardian Qatar’s business was managed effectively by its senior management.
Finally, both failed to give appropriate priority to their respective management responsibilities and failed to ensure that Guardian Qatar’s business was effectively supervised and controlled, and complied with the Regulatory Authority’s rules.
“The action taken by the Regulatory Authority emphasises the standards required of directors of authorised firms to ensure effective governance standards and systems controls to combat illicit finance,” the QFC stated.
Reprimanded but not fined
A day after the regulator published its notices against Howell and Hasberry, it released a public censure against the chairman and independent director of Guardian Wealth Management Qatar, Vincent Jones.
He “fell below the principles of conduct for an approved individual performing the non-executive governance function”, according to the QFC document.
He was also censured for failing to deal with the Regulatory Authority “in an open and cooperative manner and disclosing appropriately to the Regulator Authority any information [that it] would reasonably expect notice”.
However, no action beyond the public reprimand was taken against him.
The regulator said he would have faced a $75,000 penalty and two-year ban, but he had “provided evidence of significant mitigating circumstances”.
The document provided no details about what this evidence was.