Dubai’s crypto regulator VARA switches leadership as it ramps up operations


Dubai’s dedicated crypto regulator, the Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA), is switching leaders as it prepares for the next phase of its “ramp up to full-scale market operations” in 2023. 

In a statement sent to Cointelegraph, VARA said that its incumbent CEO, Henson Orser, will be replaced by Matthew White, a global adviser who worked several roles at PwC. VARA also explained that Orser will still help the regulator as a consultant.

Orser is a former banker who worked at Nomura Holdings. The executive led VARA in adopting a regulatory regime for the crypto space that took effect earlier in 2023, right after the FTX collapse.

VARA said the official established a “specialist regulatory regime” within his term. After he hands over the position, VARA said that the executive would still collaborate with the regulator. “His commitment to VARA is steadfast as he will remain available in a consultative capacity hereon, highlighting the strong collaboration between both parties,” VARA wrote.

Related: Dubai releases crypto regulations for virtual asset service providers

The switch comes just as the United Arab Emirates is tightening its rules and imposing fines on unlicensed virtual asset service providers (VASPs). On Nov. 8, several regulators in the UAE released a joint guidance for virtual asset service providers (VASP) in the country.

The new guidelines included various penalties for VASPs operating in the jurisdiction without the proper licenses. The move is an effort from the UAE to be removed from the “grey list” of the Financial Action Task Force, where it was listed back in 2022.

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