Dubai’s Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA) is undergoing a leadership transition in anticipation of the next phase of its operational expansion scheduled for 2023.
Henson Orser, the outgoing CEO, will transition into a consultancy role following the appointment of Matthew White, a seasoned global advisor with a background in various roles at PwC, as the new CEO.
VARA Transition Details
VARA confirmed the leadership change in a statement, expressing the shift as part of their strategic approach for the forthcoming ramp-up of full-scale market operations. Orser, a former banker with experience at Nomura Holdings, guided VARA through the adoption of a regulatory framework for the crypto sphere. It was implemented shortly after the FTX collapse in 2023.
Orser’s Contribution and Continued Involvement
During Orser’s tenure, VARA established a specialized regulatory regime tailored for the crypto domain. Despite stepping down from the CEO position, Orser will continue his association with the regulatory body, providing consultancy support.
VARA emphasized Orser’s ongoing commitment, highlighting the continued collaboration between him and the authority in a consultative capacity.
Regulatory Landscape in the UAE
The leadership transition coincides with the United Arab Emirates’ efforts to tighten regulations along with levying fines on unlicensed virtual asset service providers (VASPs). Multiple regulators in the UAE jointly issued guidance for VASPs on November 8, outlining penalties for operating without proper licenses.
This move aims to address the UAE’s inclusion on the Financial Action Task Force’s “grey list” in 2022. It also reflects the country’s commitment to regulatory adherence and compliance.
VARA’s transition in leadership signifies a strategic shift aligning with the evolving regulatory landscape in Dubai. Orser’s continued involvement in a consultative role, coupled with the UAE’s efforts to bolster regulatory standards also showcases the authority’s commitment to robust and compliant operations within the virtual asset space.