The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) has levied a fine of $165,000 on Ashish Bhandari, a former relationship manager at a DFSA-authorised private bank in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). The DFSA has further restricted Bhandari from working in positions providing financial services in or from the DIFC. Bhandari knowingly violated the jurisdiction’s AML law from 2011 to 2013 and obstructed the DFSA in 2017 and 2018.
Bhandari was the director and registered beneficial owner of an off-shore entity registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). This entity had been created with an introducer of Bhandari’s employer. Bhandari had his employer pay the introducer’s referral fees without disclosing his own involvement in the entity. Bhandari’s employer also thought that the money transferred to this entity was owned and controlled by the introducer. Bhandari then transferred large amounts of money from this BVI entity to his personal off-shore bank accounts.
Bhandari’s employer failed to take adequate measures to verify the identity and ownership of the BVI entity as it was obligated to do under the AML law. Further, Bhandari knowingly violated the AML law by concealing relevant information from the DFSA-authorised bank. Bhandari also failed to comply with the DFSA’s requests to provide information. In fact, he either provided false or misleading information to the DFSA, or concealed information to obstruct the DFSA’s investigation.