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Finalists: Nisreen Al-Shaker, OSN; Larunkhanna Khader Kondatill, Landmark Group; Giugliano Nanetti, GDF Suez South Asia, Middle East & Africa; Giuseppe Ostuni, First Abu Dhabi Bank (Highly Commended); Jeremy Smith, Emirates Group.

Varsha Gupta, Reckitt Benckiser’s regional legal and compliance counsel for its Middle East and Iran health division, won the Senior Corporate Counsel prize for assisting the company’s Iranian expansion against a backdrop of sanctions and heightened compliance risk.

To that end, Gupta prepared a detailed guide on the steps needed to structure its Iranian business that would allow it to import and distribute products in the country and transfer funds back to the parent company.

In addition, Gupta has provided invaluable support to its North African business, which prior to September last year had no dedicated on-the-ground legal assistance. As a stopgap, Gupta set up fortnightly teleconferenced legal surgeries with its local business units, ensuring any legal problems were identified early.

She has also introduced more targeted and efficient training programmes within the business to boost awareness of potential red flags and ensure the legal team is quickly engaged on any brewing issues.

Outside of the business, Gupta provides pro bono support to Indian charity Society Against Violence in Education by offering victim counselling remotely from Dubai.

“A challenging remit requiring careful attention to legislative and sanctions requirements, as well as some good initiatives within the business,” noted a judge.

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