Interview with Dubai-based Business Attorney Faizal Latheef
Faizal Latheef is a Dubai-based Business Attorney and Partner at Kochhar & Co. Faizal is renowned for his expertise in corporate and commercial law. He represents and advises clients on a wide variety of matters including Foreign Investments, Joint Ventures, Mergers and Acquisitions, Corporate Restructuring, Distribution & Franchising, Anti-Corruption & Compliance, Cross-Border Transactions, Employment and Wills. We have conducted an interview with him.
How do you describe yourself, personally and professionally?
I am a lawyer who is passionate about what I do, and enjoy each moment of my life! I am excited about the seamless possibilities offered by life, thrilled with the great people surrounding me, and thankful for whatever I have. I believe life is amazing!
I have close to two decades of professional experience, gained from one of the largest international law firms, a fortune Global 500 corporation and some of the leading regional law firms. I have gained enormous experience acting as an in-house counsel leading 35 countries in the Middle East and Africa. I have been in Dubai, the ‘city of dreams’ for over a decade now, supporting and safeguarding inbound investments from across the world.
What areas of law do you focus on?
I focus on the variant aspects of business law. I work a lot on foreign investments, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructuring and compliance, in particular anti-corruption.
I have substantial experience working with large multinational corporations on international transactions and have led several multi-billion dollar deals across sectors varying from healthcare to hospitality and private security to defence.
How do you differentiate yourself from scores of other attorneys in the market?
In my two decades of practice, I have been fortunate to understand the legal issues faced by my clients from multiple perspectives. I have practised law with a multinational law firm, a Fortune Global 500 corporation and some of the leading regional law firms. In addition, I have practiced dispute resolution for over 7 years in India.
The type of clients that I have supported and the nature of problems they have had, in each of these stints, were absolutely different. My experience in leading the operations of a large multinational corporation in around 35 countries totally changed my perspective of legal practice. This experience made me realise the importance of finding a practical solution for my client, keeping their business objectives in mind. Further, my experience handling commercial litigation enables me to identify and mitigate risks associated with a commercial transaction quickly and effectively.
More importantly, I am keen in building long-lasting partnerships with people, based on trust and transparency. I have a large number of friends across the world, and they all know that they can approach me any time, for any matter, and in any part of the world. It is their good wishes and prayers that make me a great success!
You do a lot of work in the anti-corruption spectrum. How does corruption impact the economy? What is the importance of anti-corruption in the business sector?
A corrupt environment will support only a select few, making them more powerful and enabling them to control major chunk of wealth. This disentitles the majority of the population from enjoying benefits, which they would have been otherwise entitled to. This also widens the gap between the rich and poor. In order to build a sustainable economy, it is important to create a level playing field and promote a healthy competition between businesses. This is possible only if we eliminate corruption. It is heartening to see that many countries have now realised the significance of strong anti-corruption policies, and are stepping up their efforts towards achieving a corruption free world.
Most of the advanced economies have zero tolerance towards corruption. Accordingly, many of the multinational companies have developed internal anti-corruption compliance policies. However, the important question is how strong and fool-proof is their policy? This is where verification of the compliance program by a qualified third party becomes critical.
Why do you think that your association with ETHIC Intelligence will change the anti-corruption landscape of the region?
There are a myriad of companies which wants to do business in an ethical and compliant manner. However, many are unaware of the local legal provisions on anti-corruption and unintentionally invite exposure. The regional governments are taking strict measures in eliminating corruption from the public sphere, and with the changed economic climate, I believe the efforts in this direction will be further stepped up.
I have been supporting companies from diverse backgrounds in ensuring anti-corruption compliance. However, undertaking a comprehensive review of a company’s internal anti-corruption program in multiple jurisdictions and certifying its excellence is a job that requires a larger infrastructure and experience of a different magnitude. This is where I thought joining hands with an organisation like ETHIC Intelligence will add significant value to our clients.
ETHIC Intelligence is one of the world’s leading anti-corruption compliance agencies. They provide assurance of the quality and effectiveness of corporate anti-corruption compliance programs, and have vast experience in this regard.
Can you tell us a bit about your immediate plans?
We are starting with a training on Anti-corruption Compliance and the newly adopted ISO 37001 Standards on Anti-bribery Management. The training is meant for compliance officers, in-house lawyers, auditors and all other personnel who associate with corporate anti-corruption compliance programs. The event will be held in Taj Dubai, from 12-16 March 2017.
I am proud to mention that ours is the first training in the Middle East on ISO 37001, after its adoption in last October. More importantly, the training is led by Philippe Montigny, the CEO of ETHIC Intelligence, who co-drafted the Standards! I am very excited and keenly look forward to our event.
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