Andre specialises in a full suite of advisory and contentious financial regulatory matters, including advising on licensing, supervisory, and enforcement matters. Andre gained much sought-after intimate insider knowledge of regulatory processes and policies, having been a legal counsel at the Dubai Financial Services Authority, where he was involved in the drafting of amendments to legislation, and in enforcement matters including a landmark enforcement case.
Following his return to private practice, Andre regularly advises major international financial institutions on the full spectrum of financial regulatory matters. Andre has a keen interest in all things FinTech, having acted as a panel judge at one of the earliest local FinTech awards program, and advised clients on asset "tokenization" and initial token offers. Andre also regularly advises on a range of relevant issues such as anti-money laundering, terrorist financing, sanctions, bribery and data protection.
Andre's Arabic fluency, combined with his mixed civil law and common law background, enables him to seamlessly advise on local original Arabic legislation and regulations, with limited reliance on English translations. This also allows effective communication with local authorities and clients alike, and reflects a deep understanding of the local culture and legal lore.
Licensing of leading financial institutions – Provided comprehensive assistance for a number of leading international financial institutions in establishing a regulated presence in the 2 financial free zones in the United Arab Emirates ("UAE") (both UK Common Law jurisdictions). This included all aspects of the licensing process, from advising on the structure of the set-ups, to drafting the regulatory business plans, necessary waivers, the template client agreement, to obtaining financial services and commercial licences and incorporating the legal entities
Landmark joint-venture between a major UAE sovereign wealth fund-affiliated entity and a leading international property manager – Acted as the legal counsel to a joint-venture between a major UAE sovereign wealth fund-affiliated asset manager and a leading international property manager in establishing and licensing a fund manager to manage a real estate investment trust in one of the UAE financial free zones. The very strict project deadline for the license application was met with minimal follow-up from the financial regulator, highlighting the quality of the application and setting a new benchmark
Initial Token Offerings advisor licensing in a regulatory sandbox – Assisted an industry-leading international advisor on cryptoassets and cryptocurrencies in obtaining one of the first sandbox licenses in its category. This involved close cooperation with the regulator to tailor the regulations and restrictions to the client's specific business, and to provide for the use of innovative RegTech to comply with regulatory requirements. This engagement required to take a deep-dive into the inner-workings of crypto-token offers, in one of the most dynamic yet technically challenging developing areas in financial regulation
Tokenization of real property – Advised an industry-leading international crypto-asset and cryptocurrency advisor on the possible legal structure for "tokenizing" real-property, where rights in leased property would be represented by tradable crypto-tokens and rents would generate dividends for token holders. This remains a challenging pioneering effort to implement a highly innovative structure in a burgeoning regulatory environment
Licensing of one of the first UAE real property crowdfunding platforms – Handled the regulatory license application for an entity affiliated with a leading UAE property developer. Although the license application was eventually dropped, this provided the opportunity to lay down the blueprint for a fully functioning real property crowdfunding platform which included setting out the process for tokenizing rights in real property, drafting the regulatory business plan and all the necessary processes and agreements for the listing of properties on the platform, as well as platform rules, processes and investor risk disclaimers
Cross-jurisdictional advice to leading financial institutions – Advising foreign financial institutions on the conduct of activities on a complex cross-jurisdictional basis. This includes advising on the regulatory regimes in the UAE (including the 2 financial free zones) in relation to financial promotions, offers of securities (including offers of fund units and employee share plans), conduct of in-country promotional activity, and the triggering of licensing requirements including any relevant exemptions. One of the challenges faced was the interplay of the various jurisdictions' regime (which are constantly evolving) in the absence formal guidance from the regulators and the relevant authorities, and the blurriness of jurisdictional lines
AML and sanctions advice – Providing advice to financial institutions operating in the UAE on anti-money laundering and sanctions, and on their relevant regulatory requirements on a case-by-case basis. Provided advice to non-regulated leaders in the soft drinks, industrial hardware, pharmaceutical, food and sportswear industries on the UAE sanctions regime and how it may apply to them, including practical advice on dealing with Iran-linked funds
FATCA and CRS classification of a sovereign wealth fund and a private investment bank – Assisted a major local sovereign wealth fund, his affiliated asset manager and a leading European private bank in determining their appropriate classifications under FATCA and CRS and their relevant reporting obligations
Landmark enforcement case – Acted on the legal team of the financial regulator's decision making committee which resulted in the imposition of a USD$ 10 million fine against a leading international investment bank. This was the highest fine ever imposed by a UAE financial regulator to date. The matter sent ripples through the regulated community and conveyed key regulatory messages
Defence of a major regional financial institution in a market abuse case – Advised, and acted for, a major local financial institution. Obtained a favourable settlement for the client after successfully vacating the more serious DFSA allegations