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Head of Dubai’s Digital Asset Regulator Steps Down – What’s Going On?

David Pokima
Last updated: | 2 min read
Image Source: Pixabay

The head of Dubai’s cryptocurrency regulator, Henson Orser has left the role to pursue new interests amid looming domestic fines on digital asset companies for a breach of rules.

According to a Bloomberg report Orser, who was the head of the Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA), will be replaced by Matthew White citing officials at the regulator.

This development comes as a surprise because Orser has been in the job for just nine months and was the boss that spear-headed the agency’s web3 drive in recent months which saw multiple companies and developers migrate to the region.

The former head told Bloomberg that his exit will be smooth as it will be a planned transition where he will become a consultant throughout the process.

It was a great experience and I’m fully vested in a consultative capacity to support VARA. I’m leaving to pursue other interests.”

Mathew White who has previously acted as a consultant for VARA and a partner at PwC will take over from Orser. At the moment, details of this development remain unclear and no formal statement has been released by White or VARA.

Incoming sanctions for erring firms


It was also revealed that over 12 cryptocurrency companies will be fined by the financial regulator on Nov 19 for breaching local guidelines. Sources familiar with the matter however said top exchanges like Binance, OKX, and ByBit will kit be sanctioned but will be given time to comply.

The above-listed exchanges hold partial licenses in the country with plans to obtain full requirements shortly. The decision not to fine these exchanges may be due to committed efforts at compliance and a strategy not to come across as stifling major companies in the region.

VARA has yet to throw light on the sanctions or the listed firms but the agency seeks to improve financial compliance among firms to protect investors from bad actors.

Dubai’s crypto hub dreams on course


Despite the announcement of the change of leadership, the helm remains focused on transforming the city into a web3 hub as can be seen in retaining Orser and stressing on a smooth transition.

In recent times, Dubai has recorded huge successes in digital asset innovation with more firms looking to obtain a VARA license hinged on increasing adoption in local markets and around the region.

VARA has granted five licenses so far as not firms wait in line to fulfill several requirements. Policy watchers say the push by the financial regulator is part of wider plans to get off the Financial Action Task Force’s grey list. Similarly, Turkey also plans to release detailed crypto regulations next year to exit the gray list.