The UAE is composed of many nationalities, though Indians form over 50% of the total population in the UAE. 20% of Indian expats are working in professional employment with a great number of entrepreneurs establishing businesses in a flourishing economy. There are an estimated 33,000 Indian millionaires living in the UAE.
Calls from Indians with legal problems in the UAE have risen by 125% in 2015.
A large percentage of our client base is from India. The vast majority of Indian clients that we have assisted in 2015 have needed help with the following issues:
1. Credit Cards, Personal Loan Debt, Mortgages & Bounced Cheques
Approximately 40% of Indian Clients in 2015 needed assistance in resolving issues with bank debt. All of our clients wished to resolve their issues as soon as possible, so as to enable them to continue working and repaying their loans. Banks this year were keen to push quickly to report late payments to the police.
In 50% of cases, this leads to their passports being confiscated and rendering them unable to work in the UAE. This caused them to fail in paying other commitments, such as rent to their landlords. The Landlord is then capable of making a police complaint for debt and the situation quickly spirals out of control.
When banks do not work with their customers to reach managed repayment plans, the debtor eventually winds up in prison and the sentencing duration depends on the amount owed.
Knowing this, many Indians (and other nationalities) have simply fled the UAE at the first sign of financial hardship. For example, loss of employment.
2. Company Debt
Approximately 20% of our calls from Indians this year have been in relation to Company Directors' inability to pay corporate obligations.
One client described his situation "We made a contract with a well known company and on the back of this, we made agreements with our suppliers to buy products and hired staff to complete the project. The Company decided not to fulfill their agreement and I did not have the money to take a legal action against them in the civil courts. My company then defaulted on the suppliers and staff and they made police complaints against me and now, I face jail".
Many other clients have reported similar circumstances. The UAE offers very little protection for entrepreneurs. If a business does not perform as expected, despite someone's best efforts, the entrepreneur is jailed. This is not very encouraging for start up companies to take a risk in the UAE, a country where situations outside of one's control, can result in criminal actions.
In most countries there is limited liability for Directors, unless they have committed an act of fraud or other criminal act. Where the Director has acted in good faith and with due diligence, they would not be jailed for their failure to meet commitments.
Many Indians have fled the UAE, rather than face criminal prosecution for what is not a crime in most countries.
The other approximately 20% of Indian callers in 2015 had queries in relation to debt collection abroad and in relation to whether they are (or will be) listed on the Interpol Red Notice Database.
Most debt collection agencies used by major banks in the UAE threaten customers that they will be listed on the Interpol Database unless they pay immediately. The tactics used abroad involve extreme harassment and serious threats.
The UAE has long reported people to Interpol for the type of "crimes" listed above. Interpol only list some of their red notices publicly on their website. Most of them remain unpublished and it is necessary to individually apply to Interpol for further information.
We have submitted a number of removal applications for Indians this year alone. Most cases that we have reviewed did not constitute a crime that is reportable to Interpol. However, each case needs to be argued and submitted to Interpol for their review. In the mean time, this can cause significant disruption to the lives of those who have been reported. We continue to campaign for the termination of the ability of member countries to report crimes to Interpol without evidence that they fall within the remit of Interpol.
An Interpol notice can cause significant distress and when unfairly submitted, is a human rights violation, rendering the reported person unable to travel and, in some cases unable to work at all. It has also led to several unwarranted arrests, detentions and lengthy (and costly) judicial proceedings worldwide. If someone is arrested in another jurisdiction, they can be forced to remain in that jurisdiction for many months, while the matter is resolved between the authorities.
How we have helped in 2015....
1. Police, Immigration, Visa, GCCPol & Interpol Status Checks
The first step to resolving an issue is to absolutely determine the nature of the potential issues. In seeking information, we have often uncovered other open cases that the clients were completely unaware of.
We have further discovered open issues before travel and thereby been able to prevent arrests and detention, while seeking to resolve the issue without trauma.
We have where possible, tried to resolve the situation privately with the complainant to have official cases removed.
We have advised and assisted with negotiations with Banks, Institutions and private individuals to reach agreements that prevent police cases being opened. If we can solve it early, we prevent passport confiscation, jail sentences and Interpol notices.
It is often difficult for individuals to resolve their own matters as banks and debt collectors tend to be much more aggressive and intimidating in their approach, if the individual is acting alone.
We have received responses from debt collection agencies issuing threats like "if not, face legal and travel ban, Interpol and civil case" and "if the amount is not remitted urgently legal team will go ahead and file Interpol and civil case". It is confusing and frustrating for clients who are desperately trying to manage their debts and repay their loans, to be met with such threats when they are simply unable to repay the demanded amount, usually due to a loss of employment or unforeseen corporate issue.
3. Corporate & Company Disputes
We have successfully negotiated resolutions for clients within the private sector. This has lead customers to be able to continue building business within the UAE without being imprisoned and without having to flea the country.
Where required, we have both initiated and defending civil proceedings in the UAE in support of clients who have found themselves in a company dispute.
We seek to prevent reports being made where possible, though if a client suspects or knows he or she is listed on Interpol, we represent them in discovery and removal submissions to Interpol.
We hope to see the UAE attitude towards finances change from criminal to civil. In the mean time, we continue to assist and advise clients on strategic solutions to a range of problems that are commonplace for all nationalities in the UAE.