Dubai's VARA Appoints Matthew White as CEO

Luisa Crawford  Nov 17, 2023 16:50  UTC 08:50

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Dubai's Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA) has announced a change in its leadership. Matthew White has been appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), taking over from Henson Orser. This transition comes at a pivotal time, as Dubai intensifies its regulatory framework for virtual asset service providers (VASPs).

The leadership change is part of VARA's strategy as it gears up for "full-scale market operations" in 2023. Matthew White, with over 20 years of global advisory experience, including his role as a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), is set to take the helm of VARA​​​​​​. His deep expertise in technology and digital trust positions him well to lead the regulatory body through its next phase of development.

Despite stepping down, Henson Orser will continue his association with VARA in a consulting capacity. Orser, a seasoned financial professional, has been instrumental in establishing a "specialist regulatory regime" for Dubai's cryptocurrency market, particularly following the challenges faced in the aftermath of the FTX exchange failure​​​​.

This leadership transition aligns with the broader efforts of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to tighten its regulations concerning virtual assets. In a collaborative effort, multiple UAE agencies released comprehensive guidelines for VASPs on November 8, incorporating various penalties for entities operating without appropriate authorization. This move is part of the UAE's endeavor to be removed from the "grey list" of the Financial Action Task Force, to which it was added in 2022​​.

As Dubai's VARA enters a critical phase in its regulatory journey, the appointment of Matthew White as CEO symbolizes a commitment to strengthening oversight and fostering a secure and robust virtual asset market. With the continued support of Henson Orser, VARA is poised to navigate the evolving landscape of cryptocurrency regulation effectively.

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