Abu Dhabi Global Market: Registration Authority Launches Consultation on Enhanced Investigative Powers

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Abu Dhabi Global Market: Registration Authority Launches Consultation on Enhanced Investigative Powers

Abu Dhabi Global Market’s Registration Authority has announced it has launched a consultation on enhancements to its investigative powers under the Commercial Licensing Regulations 2015. The consultation ends on 17 March 2024.

Among miscellaneous amendments, if approved, the amendments would allow investigators to enter business premises of an individual being investigated or connected to an individual being investigated who can or may be able to give information or produce a document which is or may be relevant to an investigation to inspect and copy information or documents stored in any form on the premises during normal business hours.

They may also require the individual being investigated or connected to an individual being investigated to assist the investigation in any way they can.

Where an investigator exercises this power to enter the business premises, it may require any appropriate person to make any relevant information stored at those premises available for inspection or copying.

They may also require an appropriate person to convert any relevant information into a form capable of being copied and use the facilities of the occupier of the premises, free of charge, to make copies.

In addition, where an investigator exercises its power to conduct an interview, it may give a direction about who may be present, prevent any person present during any part of the interview from disclosing any information provided to the interviewee or questions asked by the interviewer during the interview to anyone else.

An investigator may also impose requirements for the conduct of any one present, including on the way in which they will participate in the interview, require an interviewee to swear an oath or give an affirmation that the answers the interviewee gives will be true and requires the interviewee to answer any questions relevant to the investigation.

All interviews conducted will be recorded and the interviewee will generally be given the opportunity to request a copy of the recording or a transcript of the interview, if available.

The request for a recording or transcript could have reasonable conditions attached to it by the investigator.

An individual should not engage in any conduct, including the destruction of documents, failing to give or produce information or documents specified by the investigator, failing to attend before the investigator at a specified time and place to answer questions, give information that is false or misleading or fail to give any assistance in relation to an investigation which the individual is able to give with the intention of obstructing the investigator in the exercise of any powers under this Part without reasonable excuse.

Where an individual makes a statement in response to any question asked or produces information or documents in compliance with a requirement, the Registrar must maintain the confidentiality of the statement, information or documents, unless disclosure is required by law or court order to disclose the information.

The investigator may make directions to protect the confidentiality of information and documents which are part of an interview.

Where an investigator considers that the disclosure of the fact a notice has been issued requiring an individual to produce documents, give information, attend a compulsory interview or give assistance may hinder the investigation it relates to, the investigator may order the individual not to disclose the receipt of a notice or any information relating to compliance with it to anyone else other their legal representative who is under a duty of confidentiality.

The Registrar will be responsible for the costs and expenses of an investigation.

Where an individual is found by a registrar or court to have committed the alleged contravention which was investigated, the court may order the individual pay or reimburse the Registrar for all or part of the costs and expenses of the investigation. This could include the remuneration of anyone involved in the investigation.

The court may make this order for an application by the Registrar, whether or not the individual has commenced, or intends to commence, a reference, appeal or other proceeding in relation to a decision of the Registrar.

The Registrar may only apply to the court for an order where there are proceedings before the court relating to the alleged contravention by the individual.

The Registrar may enter into any agreement regarding costs with the individual who is being investigated.

An individual who fails to comply with a requirement of the Registrar will be guilty of committing a contravention of the Regulations.

An individual who commits specific contraventions could be fined up to level 8 on the standard fines scale.

The amendments will come into force on their published date.

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Tanya Jain