Dubai regulator confirms covid-19 support for DIFC companies

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Dubai regulator confirms covid-19 support for DIFC companies

The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), the UAE regulator of Dubai's financial hub, announced yesterday a relief package for firms based in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

the DFSA said in a statement: "These initiatives will reduce financial stress on new and existing firms, allowing them to cope with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. The measures will help firms to protect staff and support clients during this period of uncertainty."

The regulator is "closely monitoring the financial and operational impacts of the current environment" and will take necessary steps to maintain the "integrity of financial services and markets", the DFSA said.

Throughout this period of uncertainty, we have responded to the pressure companies and their people face as we are taking a rigid stance against the impact of this period of stress by putting the needs of our community first."

Bryan Stirewalt, chief executive of the DFSA, said: "We want to help all regulated firms and related businesses in the DIFC to manage their operations and protect their staff through the temporary challenges and uncertainties we are currently facing. We are committed to fulfilling DFSA regulatory objectives as the independent financial services regulator of the DIFC, but we are also focusing DFSA attention on the wellbeing of the Centre's wider community and ecosystem."

"We are committed to supporting businesses and their customers in their efforts to safely navigate the current turbulence. The DFSA stands ready to consider any reasonable requests for regulatory relief and DFSA staff are available to answer any questions. I encourage everyone to work together for the greater good of the DIFC community, Dubai and the UAE." 

New firms coming into the DIFC will pay only half the application fee for the remainder of 2020 and will be given more time to complete the application and authorisation processes. New domestic funds will receive a waiver of registration fees in 2020.

Existing authorised firms in the DIFC will receive fee waivers for applications relating to "authorised individuals". The regulator also extended temporary relief for capital requirements for firms that do not hold or control client assets or hold insurance monies, according to the DFSA statement.

The full relief measures the DFSA has announced are:

For new firms coming into the DIFC, these will:

  • be given more time to complete the application and authorisation processes and meet the set-up requirements to commence business;
  • receive a50% reduction in Application Fees for the remainder of 2020 and flexibility in requirements for permanent premises;
  • in the case ofDomestic Funds, receive a waiver of Registration Fees for the remainder of 2020.  


For existing authorised firms, these will be able to obtain:

  • an extension of time for filing a number of returns and reports, including both IRAP and ICAAP returns, the Controllers Report and the Annual Report of the Shari'a Supervisory Board, where applicable;
  • additional time, where reasonable, for submitting Annual Accounts and Financial Statement Auditors Report, with the exception of Reporting Entities;
  • flexibility in meeting Authorised Individual obligations, including extending the amount of time that temporary cover can be in place.
  • a waiver of fees for applications relating to Authorised Individuals and flexibility in considering the workload that may be carried by those offering outsourced compliance services;
  • temporary relief from capital requirements for those firms which do not hold or control Client Assets or hold Insurance Monies;        
  • a waiver of our fees for applications for waivers and modifications for the remainder of 2020 and we will waive all automated late return fees for the remainder of 2020, and,
  • a waiver of the listing fees for new SME issuers in the DIFC for the remainder of 2020. 

Arif Amiri, CEO of the DIFC Authority, said: "The DFSA's regulatory relief measures reinforce the robust set of initiatives we have implemented to provide relief to regulated firms and our entire community at the DIFC.

"Throughout this period of uncertainty, we have responded to the pressure companies and their people face as we are taking a rigid stance against the impact of this period of stress by putting the needs of our community first."

Amiri added: "It is through continued collaboration that we can provide businesses with the hope and financial strength needed to move beyond this challenging period."

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Christopher Copper-Ind

Christopher Copper-Ind is editor-in-chief of International Investment. Before this, he was editorial director of The Business Year, from 2014 to 2017.