UAE ends prison sentences for expat loan defaulters

Published:  1 Jan at 6 PM
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Tagged: Citizenship, Dubai, UAE
Following a relaxation for Emirati citizens in sentencing laws regarding the criminal offence of defaulting on loan payments, expats who bounce cheques will not now be given jail terms.

In October last year, the UAE ruler Sheikh Khalifa issued a royal decree announcing the decriminalisation of the issuing of bouncing cheques, which has now been extended to overseas workers in the emirate. According to Reuters, Ali Khalfan al Dhaheri, legal head of the kingdom’s Ministry of Presidential Affairs, announced today that expatriate debt defaulters would no longer face prison terms.

Al Dhaheri added that the inclusion of expats had been ordered by Sheikh Khalifa in the spirit of equality and fairness. The United Arab Emirates’ legal system has no bankruptcy laws, leaving debtors unprotected from their creditors and liable to serve several years in prison if they default on loans or their cheques are not honoured by the banks.

Many UAE lawyers representing offenders have been calling for the decriminalisation of the offence. Recently, a Dubai-based British businessman serving a three-year prison sentence for bouncing cheques was released following a seven-week hunger strike which resulted in his conviction being overturned.

The relaxed stance on the offence has been confirmed in an article by the National, an Abu Dhabi daily newspaper. Head of the Justice Ministry’s judicial inspection department Judge Jassem Saif Buossaiba confirmed to reporters that federal public prosecutors in the kingdom had been instrumental in freeing convicted Emirati offenders since the law changed in October, adding that expatriate prisoners convicted of the offence were also being freed.
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Comments » There are 5 comments

Helper wrote 10 years ago:

Calling you or harassing your family members is illegal and you may file a police case nearby police station. And the cant do anything until and unless you return to UAE. But if you come back defiantly you will be arrested at airport if the bank has filed the police case against you .Better stay home or try other GCC country or any other part of this world and try to settle the amount if you are planning to pay back. Forget about the threatening calls or Interpol as they don’t go for collecting money . ask the bank guys to come with legal papers that they are authorized to collect the money from you or file a police case in your area’s police station…definitely they will stop calling you… ,take care of your health and get well soon..

Raani wrote 11 years ago:

what would be with those , who took loan, consumed credit cards and didnt payback in the period of 2007 to 2012 and flew from Dubai , can they go back to dubai ? will they not be arrested on airport ?

Syed wrote 10 years ago:

I was in UAE for 8 years from 2005 to 2013. I had taken loan and credit cards amounting to 300,000 uae dirhams. i had been settling these amounts from my salary every month. I came to india on a vacation in Aug 2013 and met with an accident which kept me in and out of hospitals for almost 4 months. I resigned from my job in order to take care of myself and the medical requirements. My intentions have always been to pay back to the the banks I owe. however, 6 months in India I have not got a proper job that would help me pay the banks. The banks have been constantly calling and harassing me and my family members to pay immediately or face INTERPOL legal action. Can these banks place an arrest on me from India? can they extract me from India and jail me in UAE ? My intention is to pay back, but currently not in a position to do so. I have told this to the banks, but they have been harassing me nevertheless. Please advise. Regards Syed

Kazi wrote 9 years ago:

I also need help, as I was in Dubai too and returned back to Pakistan due to my job loss in 2012 with AED 300,000 liability in terms of credit cards and personal loan. Now after 02 years I got an offer in KSA. Is there anyone who can share his experience Or advise if it is safe to travel to KSA?? Will I get any problem at Saudi immigration??

MOHD wrote 9 years ago:

just a question I had a debt with credit card in UAE, I negotiated to pay 10,000 a month for five months, I paid all that with great difficulty but after one year they contacted me and telling me I need to pay 48000 more, I can't pay now, I honored what I vomited by the way when I left Dubai, I had no loans and no out standing on credit cards, I used the credit cards overs ease after 3 years , I didn't runaway from there for any debts, will Interpol will arrest me , I am not even in my country at the moment but I want to go to my country which is Australia, can any one suggest what should I do they may take serious action any time , I think

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