Banks, exchange houses and other financial and investment companies operating in the UAE can now lodge a complaint with the Central Bank directly through its online “Complaints and Suggestions” section.
The Central Bank said lenders can also use the new unit to complain about its services or present any suggestions in this regard.
Bankers welcomed the move and said it would save time and funds as it would allow them to settle disputes without resorting to costly and long court cases.
“The Central Bank is a regulatory authority over banks, exchange houses, finance and investment companies. If there is a complaint regarding any of the above mentioned institutions operating in the UAE, we will be able to assist you. A complaint should be filed online… if the complaint is in the court of law, Central Bank will not be able to help,” the Central Bank said in a statement.
“Before filing a complaint with the Central Bank, every effort should be made in order to settle the matter directly with the concerned bank or financial institution.
Upon receiving the complaint, the Central Bank’s “Complaints and Suggestions” section will provide a reference number and will start immediately investigating the complaint with the concerned financial institution.”
The Central Bank said it would notify complainants of the result of its probe within eight weeks but added some types of disputes are outside its authorisation, an apparent reference to major financial problems or criminal cases.
“Please note this system is also available to banks and other financial institutions to file a complaint about services offered to them by the Central Bank.”
The statement gave no further details but Central Bank sources said disputes cover default by individual or corporate debtors, problems arising from funding of projects or other types of credits, cases involving interest rates and payment schedules, currency exchange fraud and other related disputes.
Complainants lodging a case have to fill a form online, including their names, nationality, addresses, account, details of the case and other information. It also asks them how they think their problem can be satisfactorily resolved.
“This is a good move… the Central Bank has been involved in resolving some disputes for a while but now it is expanding its role,” a banker said. “Of course it will save banks and other institutions a lot of time, effort, energy and funds…. court cases cost much money and some of them drag on for a long time… this has affected the performance of some institutions.”
At the end of September 2008, the UAE had 24 national banks and 28 foreign units. There were also two investment banks, 16 finance companies, 80 representative offices, 16 investment companies, 13 banking consultant firms, 16 monetary and financial brokers and 105 money changers.
According to the Central Bank, it has granted licences for a total 299 banks and financial institutions, which have 1,143 branches through the UAE.
Its figures showed the UAE’s 52 banks controlled the largest assets in the Arab World of around Dh1.4 trillion at the end of September. Their credits totalled around Dh260 billion in the first nine months of 2008.