Hundreds of cheque-bouncers released from jail under new laws

Cases against 555 UAE nationals accused of bouncing cheques in Dubai have been dropped under new laws brought in by presidential decree.
Attorney General Issam Issa Al Humaidan said Dubai Public Prosecution dismissed the charges and those in custody have been freed. Action was taken following instructions from UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who ordered back in October that the bouncing of a security cheque by an Emirati should no longer be a criminal offence.
Al Humaidan said: “We dismissed 555 security cheque cases up to the end of December 2012 for Emiratis. We did it in cases under investigation and in cases where verdicts have already been issued.”
Under the new system, UAE nationals involved in such matters can apply for their case to be dismissed. Since December, federal courts have also stopped accepting criminal complaints from banks and finance companies that have tried to cash a security cheque after an Emirati defaulted on a debt. Judge Jassim Saif Buossaiba, head of the judicial inspection department at the Ministry of Justice, said courts began enacting the president’s instructions as soon as they were issued in October.
As part of the instructions, all detainees and convicts in relevant cases are to be freed. Al Humaidan yesterday urged UAE nationals caught up in security cheque cases to approach Dubai Public Prosecution.
“All Emiratis who are accused in security cheque cases can make a request at prosecution headquarters to dismiss their cases,” he added. Earlier this month, national news agency WAM said the decriminalising of bounced security cheques applies only to Emiratis whose files are being handled by the Higher Committeefor Debt Settlement Fund for Nationals.

The UAE Central Bank has reportedly said that out of 28.5 million cheques - worth Dhs1.2 trillion - written in 2011 across the UAE, 1.6 million - worth about Dhs55 billion - were not honoured.

There have been a number of high-profile cases involving bounced security cheques, including that of British businessman Safi Qurashi, who maintained throughout his two and half years in prison that security cheques signed by him should never have been cashed.

He was released last year after his case was reviewed.

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