Guardian Wealth Management Qatar (GWM) has been fined $1m plus costs by the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority, in a development that GWM says stems from the firm’s decision to leave the Gulf state in 2015.
Joint chief executive David Howell of Guardian Wealth Management Qatar said in a statement issued today: “We are disappointed at the treatment of GWMQ since its decision to cease its operation and the toll and effect that the QFCRA’s drawn out and protracted investigation process has had on the company and on the principals”.
Seeking to defend GWM’s record, Howell said the company has “always maintained a good, respectful and professional working relationship with our regulators and supervisors at the [QFC] Regulatory Authority.”
QFCRA’s “disciplinary action” against GWM Qatar, currently in liquidation, was imposed for “contraventions to anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism,” with additional penalties for “general regulatory contraventions.”
‘Disproportionate financial penalty’
Howell, who described the fine as a “disproportionate financial penalty,” defended the company’s record in Doha: “Of particular note is that the number of findings in each respective Risk Assessment Visit averaged between four to five, with the maximum being six findings in April 2013, and not one resulted in any financial penalty of any kind.”
“Following a particularly challenging operating environment in 2015 as well as other factors beyond our control, in December 2015, the Board of GWMQ having made the difficult decision, advised the QFCRA of our strategic decision to wind up our operations [in Qatar].”