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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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.

Posted by: mohammad

after 4 years of suffering from Bank and financial Pressure , Foreigners in UAE , smiled .
but within 2 days government said this law will cover only Emirates (Local People) .

I can not understand , when i took 200,000 AED loan and i paid
more than 75% of loan amount , Why the Bank still presenting My security Check with amount of 200,000 AED .

Some of The banks collected Blank checks from Defaulters and the are filling with their desire amount .

Government Should help The business man to Re-Structure Their Companies and Pay Back remain amount of loans to The bank .This is a logic Rule and should cover both Emirates and foreigners .

it will help to remove pressure from thousands of human life in UAE and it will help UAE economy as well .

no Benefit for anybody to keep defaulters in Jail for 3 years .!!!

Posted by: Sole

All these statements are not more than hopes and predictions that might never come through .

Retarded laws can only be corrected with proper measures by issuing new modern laws that recognize and respect article 11 of the international covenant for civil rights which clearly prohibit jailing any person due to his inability to fulfill contractual financial obligation , and that in reality can only be made by issuing the new long waited bankruptcy law , the new penal code and the new Civil trial practice .

Such solution requires full , clear and drastic measures which so far the will for it does not exist nor available in the foreseen future , therefore half initiative and keeping things in the grey area or requesting personal intervention of police, public prosecutors to indentify or classify whether the cheque are given for installment , guarantees, rent or payment of goods will never be solution for the existing disaster caused by the same practice.,

Posted by: RBH

"There is no relaxation or debt waiver for expatriates..." WHY?!!

Posted by: Andy

In America only Americans are entitled to receive US benefits such as unemployment s checks,food stamps and social security and in Dubai we have something like a get out of jail for free pass like in the game of Monopoly which only applies to locals. In the UAE this is called a pardon or basically a blind eye for financial crimes committed. Everyone needs to get money one way or another so to keep hard crime down such as robberies and real theft from retailers or homes they pretty much turn a blind eye to financial theft and set aside a certain amount of money to supposedly bail these people out. An indirect way of giving money to the locals or sharing money from the wealth of the UAE.

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