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Tue 1 Oct 2013 04:30 PM

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Barclays shuts down UAE bank accounts

Around 500 business and personal customers have their accounts frozen, no reason given

Barclays shuts down UAE bank accounts
Customers told Arabian Business that they had been telephoned by the bank on Tuesday morning, and informed that their accounts were being frozen.

Barclays has started closing the accounts of some of its retail customers in the UAE, just weeks after the lender announced that it was selling off its local retail arm.

Arabian Business understands that around 500 accounts have now been frozen.

Business and personal banking customers said that they had been telephoned by the lender on Tuesday morning, and informed that their accounts were being frozen.

"I was asked by the bank to come into the Emaar Square headquarters this morning," one of the customers, a British expatriate, who preferred not to be named, said. "They told me my account was being closed, but refused to give me a reason why.

"When I asked my relationship manager how many other accounts would be affected, he said hundreds, if not thousands - both personal and business.

"I felt like I was being treated like a criminal."

Another customer, who runs a medium-sized business, said that his debit card stopped working at 2pm on Monday, and his online account was frozen shortly afterwards.

"Barclays claimed they sent a letter, but I never received it," he told Arabian Business. "Now they are refusing to give me my money - they said they sent me a manager's cheque for the outstanding balance, which I have not received.

"It's really damaging my company - without having a bank account I can't operate until I get my money back and this is sorted out."

Despite several phone calls and emails, Arabian Business was unable to reach a Barclays spokesperson for comment.

In September, Barclays announced it will sell its retail bank in the UAE, highlighting the challenges foreign banks face in the Gulf competing against cash-rich local rivals who are finding it easier to meet stricter rules on risk.

Under chief executive Antony Jenkins, the British bank is axing at least 3,700 jobs globally, reining in pay of senior bankers and closing businesses across the group in the face of new capital rules.

"Barclays has decided to re-focus its efforts in the UAE on its key strengths in corporate and investment banking and wealth and investment management," the bank said in a statement last month.

* With Ed Attwood

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HHH 6 years ago

Isn't this considered as theft? Keeping people's money which they entrusted the bank with must be against the law, especially with no justifiable reason. What does Dubai Government or Ministry of Finance have to say about this?

micheal farley 6 years ago

they did the same about 20 years ago, they cant make up their minds what there banking strengths are

Omar Abdulwahab 6 years ago

Similar to what HSBC did with thousands of its UAE based customers earlier this year...disgraceful...

Syed Javid Ali 6 years ago

dude, its been taken over by EmiratesNBD.

MAM 6 years ago

This is absolutely outrageous! How can an Int'l bank do something so petty and cheap, and no action being taken over it. I can imagine how helpless it must be for the account holders knowing their money is stuck with the bank and there's noone to approach. Such banks should be thrown out of the country so banking can be more focused and secure!

max 6 years ago

This is very worrying for all Barclays customers and terrible PR!

Kasra from Dubai 6 years ago

It happened to me too !! They are not giving our money Back !!?? Who we need to go and complain ?!

Cross 6 years ago

I am in the same position. I have 105AED in my wallet until this mess gets sorted out. I have not had any reasonable explanation from Barclays and as soon as this is sorted, I will be banking elsewhere. I will add that I am not a retail customer, but a personal one. Absolutely ridiculous!

Barclays Client 6 years ago

This is really ridiculous and wrong from the customer's point fo view. Bank cannot close a working account and then call the customer informing about the account closure. They should meet with clinet and then give him ample time to transfer his assets from the bank. What about the cheques issues to other people on behalf of Barclays account. Barclays should be questioned and penalized by Central Bank to giving problem and destroying goodwill of customers.

Sergio 6 years ago

I am in the same situation, it is an arbitrary action by a bank to close down my corporate account without a reason and without a notice period ! I was phoned on Monday morning by my relationship manager to say that my account would be closed, I have asked him how long it will be before they take action, he replied about 15 days from now. But in the afternoon , when opening my corporate account page on internet, my account was gone!!!!
I have now requested a written letter from Barclays explaining their action : I thought that according to UAE law, the bank should give at least 15 or 30 days notice to close an account. Is this an infringment of UAE banking law? Can somebody confirm, and if it is so we could make a class action against Barclays to get compensation for their action.