The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) fined Stuart Coles, director and owner of three firms (Coworth Fintech Ltd, Coworth Investments Ltd and Novus Fintech Ltd) for obstructing an investigation.

In April of last year, the DFSA started an investigation into the firms because of a suspicion that they did not have proper authorisation to provide financial services in the DIFC. The investigation started with Coworth Fintech and Novus Fintech, and was then expanded to Coworth Investments, which had a trading address and registered office in the UK.

The DFSA went to the offices of Coworth and Novus in May to obtain documents and information relevant to the investigation. However, Coles instructed the employees not to hand over any information, and refused to allow the DFSA to copy it from the computers present.

Citing Coles's failure to comply with the investigation without sufficient reason, the DFSA imposed upon him a fine of Dh881,400 ($240,000). It also restricted him from conducting any financial activity or being an employee of any entity in the DIFC.

Patrick Meaney, Head of Enforcement at the DFSA, said, “The DFSA will not permit individuals or companies to obstruct lawful investigations. Such behaviour undermines the core objectives of the DFSA and demonstrates that those engaging in this conduct are entirely unsuitable to carry out business in the DIFC. The significant fine imposed on Mr Coles also demonstrates the DFSA will take appropriate action against individuals that are most culpable for misconduct”.