UAE expats may no longer risk jail over bad cheques

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(Image for illustrative purposes)

(Image for illustrative purposes)

Newspapers printed contradictory reports on Tuesday on whether the United Arab Emirates was ending prison terms for foreign nationals living in the Gulf Arab state who write bad cheques.

The UAE's tough penalties for defaulting on cheques were relaxed for Emirati citizens in October after a royal decree, but the threat of jail for the country's large expat population remains.

In the UAE writing cheques that bounce is a criminal offence instead of a civil one. Post-dated cheques are frequently used as a guarantee by businesses and individuals for everything from apartment rentals to multi-billion dollar deals.

Officials were not available to comment on Tuesday, which is a national holiday.

"In line with the directives of Sheikh Khalifa... and in the spirit of fairness and equality, the courts have stopped as of last month accepting collateral cheques presented as a criminal tool against expatriate debt defaulters," Ali Khalfan Al Dhaheri, head of the legal affairs department at the Ministry of Presidential Affairs was quoted saying by The National.

The paper also quoted judge Jassem Saif Buossaiba, head of the judicial inspection department at the Justice Ministry, as saying: "Federal public prosecutions in the country have, indeed, released expatriate detainees as has been the case of their Emirati counterparts who were freed last October."

However, Gulf News then quoted deputy minister of Presidential Affairs Ahmad Jumaa Al Zaabi as denying the report, saying: "There is no relaxation or debt waiver for expatriates".

In July a British businessman who had been jailed for nearly three years in Dubai for writing bad cheques was released when his conviction was overturned following a seven-week hunger strike.

The UAE has no bankruptcy laws to protect debtors and many have called for the decriminalisation of bounced cheques.

New legislation aimed at simplifying the process of bankruptcy and allowing failing companies to restructure is expected in 2013.

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Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

Posted by: Laurie O'Brien

Please help us to free Zack Shahin and all the other business men that have been imprisoned for trump up charges in Dubai. My Fiance (business man) also has been imprisoned. They have no way of getting out without your help. What can we do how can we stop this? We need to get other countries involved to put pressure on them to let these men go.

Posted by: GANCHO

BANKS SHOULD BE FORCED TO ACCEPT RESTRUCTURING WITH MINIMAL INT RATES AND LONG TENORS FOR THE DEBTS AND CR CARDS INTO DEBITS TO GET THEIR DEBIT SETTLED BEFORE THE CUSTOMER PROVE TO THE COURT SPECIALLY IF IT IS ANOTHER COUNTRY THAT THE BANK HAVE COLLECTED DOUBLES OF PRINCIPLE AMT SPENT BY THE DEFAULTERS .

WHAT IS HAPPNING IS HHHHAAAARRRRAAAAM

Posted by: gglamara

banks are charging 40-55% on credit cards , central bank should interfere and stimulate the int rate , more over banks should be will to accept principle amts only in case of default so their should be a criteria to be formulated to tell the banks that utmost precautions and measures for giving cr. cards in order not to trap the mass in a debit trouble resulting primarily from highly inflated int rates.
and the most important the law should differentiate between default cheque and actual criminal cases as its very odd to jail a murderer along with a chq bouncer.

are there someone to look at these points and start thinking for the people that lost every thing because of high interest rates

Posted by: Ken Chen

Is there any record or news about the debts being paid off of those pardoned?

Posted by: Andy

I just spoke with someone at the Dewan's Office in Abu-Dhabi this morning and the gentleman I had spoken with said that they had still not received any money to pay off the debts of the Jailed UAE citizens which were either released long ago (pardoned) or never even jailed. One can only wonder how long this will go on for? There are many victims out there from Check Fraud that are awaiting justice to be served. I have waited roughly 7 years and of all these pardons over the last 7 years along with announcements of debts being paid off none to my knowledge have been paid off..

Editors: Please update us on this story of debts being paid off and those that were pardoned.

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