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Former Compliance Officer fined and restricted from working in the DIFC

19 Dec 2019

The Financial Markets Tribunal (FMT), a specialist independent tribunal, has affirmed a decision by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) to fine Ms Anna Waterhouse and restrict her from being involved in providing financial services in or from the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

Ms Waterhouse was previously the Head of Compliance for the DIFC branch of Deutsche Bank AG (DBDIFC) covering the Middle East and North Africa.  She was authorised by the DFSA as DBDIFC’s Compliance Officer and Money Laundering Reporting Officer.

Following a lengthy and comprehensive investigation, the DFSA found that, on several occasions from 1 January 2011 to 21 January 2014, Ms Waterhouse gave false or misleading information to the DFSA.  This was confirmed by the FMT’s decision of 12 August 2019.  In particular, the FMT found that she repeatedly told the DFSA that DBDIFC’s Private Wealth Management (PWM) team only referred prospective clients to other offices of Deutsche Bank AG and did not provide them with any financial services.  Ms Waterhouse was reckless as to the truth of these statements and ignored signs that breaches were occurring.  As a result she did not correct the position over an extended period of time, which meant that failures in DBDIFC’s client take-on and anti-money laundering processes were concealed from early 2011. 

The FMT found that Ms Waterhouse knew of the true extent of PWM’s activities by November 2011 at the latest and did nothing to communicate that to the DFSA until late 2013.  The FMT found that Ms Waterhouse did not deal with the DFSA in an open and cooperative manner or disclose, appropriately, information of which the DFSA would reasonably expect to be notified.

The FMT concluded that Ms Waterhouse lacked integrity and was not a fit and proper person to perform functions in connection with financial services in or from the DIFC.  The FMT said in its decision: “It is difficult to overstate the crucial importance to the well-being of financial markets that all those who accept positions as Authorised Individuals act with integrity and deal frankly and openly with the Regulator.”

Bryan Stirewalt, Chief Executive of the DFSA, said: “It is fundamental that all Authorised Persons are open and honest with the DFSA.  The penalty in this case reflects the fact that Ms Waterhouse not only failed to be open and honest with the DFSA, but recklessly misled the DFSA over an extended period of time.”

The FMT’s decision can be found on the FMT section of the DFSA website, and a copy of it can be accessed via this link

Ms Waterhouse subsequently applied to the DIFC Courts for permission to appeal against the FMT’s decision.  On 12 December 2019, Ms Waterhouse’s application was refused and she was ordered to pay the DFSA’s costs in relation to the application for permission to appeal.  A copy of the order with reasons of Justice Sir Jeremy Cooke is available on the DIFC Courts’ website and can be accessed via this link.