LeapRate Exclusive… LeapRate has learned that Nidal Abdelhadi has decided to resign his position as Senior Executive Manager (essentially, the CEO) of Dubai-based Fortress Prime, just two months after making the jump to Fortress Prime from Swissquote Group Holding SA (SWX:SQN).
Mr. Abdelhadi is a well respected Forex industry executive, who was brought into Fortress to help deal with the many issues the company had with previous clients (more on that below), and – more importantly – to relaunch the Fortress Prime brand as a regulated provider of FX liquidity and institutional trading solutions.
Before moving to Dubai and joining Fortress, Mr. Abdelhadi was Head of Institutional Sales at Swissquote, the largest online trading and eFX broker in Switzerland. He came over to Swissquote in early 2014 as part of Swissquote’s acquisition of Swiss rival MIG Bank. At MIG Bank Mr. Abdelhadi served as Head of Institutional Sales from 2007-2014, successfully launching MIG Bank’s offering for institutional partners in the United States, UK, Turkey and numerous countries in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Far East.
So what happened?
We believe that the problems at Fortress Prime were more deeper and more complicated to unwind than Mr. Abdelhadi had previously believed (or was led to believe). And those problems made it harder for Mr. Abdelhadi and Fortress Prime to attract other executives and to look at relaunching the company’s operations in a short time frame.
Fortress is still trying to sift through the rubble left by its previous management team (i.e. prior to Nidal Abdelhadi’s arrival). From emails and other documents viewed by LeapRate, it seems as though that in 2015 Fortress’ former management:
- granted large amounts of credit to clients including to large retail FX brokers, in the tens of millions of dollars,
- allowed certain of those clients to withdraw from their accounts more cash than the size of their margin deposit (i.e the clients were given margin for trading, and also were given cash loans, keeping no cash margin at Fortress Prime), and
- most damaging, management knew about and seemed to tolerate the fact that the currency rates and spreads Fortress Prime was quoting clients were ‘off market’ and/or delayed, enabling clients to ‘scalp’ and easily arbitrage profits from Fortress Prime.
Fortress is still trying to sort out which clients were making these risk-free profits trading, and which were trading and accessing liquidity legitimately. But again, it is a very large mess to sort through.
Will Fortress Prime be able to get through this period and re-emerge as a serious player in institutional FX? Well without Mr. Abdelhadi on board their chances don’t seem as good.
We do understand that Fortress Prime’s shareholders, entities connected to the Emirates royal family, are indeed working to relaunch the company, and to find a replacement for Mr. Abdelhadi.
We will continue to follow this story as it unfolds.