Decision to de-criminalise bounced security cheques to benefit only Emiratis

A government decision asking courts to stop accepting cheques submitted by banks to criminalise debt defaults will benefit only Emiratis, many of whom have been released from jail, according to the official panel charged with tackling the debt issue.

The Higher Committee of the Nationals’ Defaulted Debts Settlement Fund said it had received instructions by HH President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to settle outstanding debt by Emiratis, including those jailed or facing court cases.

“These instructions cover only Emiratis, including the decision asking courts to stop accepting cheques presented by banks and other financial institutions against Emirati defaulters,” it said in a statement carried by the official news agency WAM.

Officials said early this week UAE courts have stopped accepting cheques submitted by banks as a criminal tool against all debt defaulters, including Emiratis and expatriates.

“All federal courts in the UAE have started to enforce the presidential instructions to stop accepting cheques presented by banks as criminal tools against expatriates as is the case with Emirati defaulters,” said Jassim Bu Aseeba, Director of the Judicial Inspection Division at the Ministry of Justice.

“For this reason, the public prosecutor has released all those jailed because of those cheques. Many Emiratis were already released in October,” he told the semi official daily Alittihad.

The paper quoted another official as saying federal courts have stopped accepting all cheques presented to them by banks and all other financial firms.

These cheques are no longer sufficient to put a defaulter in prison.

They are not a criminal tool anymore,” said Ali Khalfan Al Dahiri, director of the legal affairs department at the Ministry of Presidential Affairs.

“The decision is in line with the President’s directives to achieve justice for all residents including Emiratis and expatriates. The decision was enforced last month and all federal courts now enforce the same rule on both Emiratis and expatriates. There is no discrimination in the enforcement of these rules,” he added.

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