April 19, 2024
Leadership Shift at Dubai's VARA Signals Crypto Regulatory Expansion in 2023
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Leadership Shift at Dubai’s VARA Signals Crypto Regulatory Expansion in 2023


Dubai’s Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA) is changing leadership as it gears up for expanded operations in 2023. Matthew White, a global adviser with a background in various roles at PwC, will succeed Henson Orser, the outgoing CEO and a former Nomura Holdings banker. Despite stepping down from the CEO role, Orser will continue contributing to VARA as a consultant.

Under Orser’s leadership, VARA implemented a regulatory framework for the crypto space in early 2023, following the FTX collapse. VARA emphasized that Orser played a pivotal role in establishing a “specialist regulatory regime” during his tenure. Even after the leadership transition, Orser’s ongoing collaboration with VARA as a consultant underscores the strong partnership between the outgoing CEO and the regulatory authority.

This leadership change coincides with increased regulatory efforts in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where authorities are tightening rules and imposing fines on unlicensed Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs). On November 8, several UAE regulators jointly released guidance for VASPs, outlining penalties for operating without proper licenses. This regulatory initiative is part of the UAE’s broader efforts to be removed from the “grey list” of the Financial Action Task Force, where it was listed in 2022.

Image by Wikimedia Commons

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