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UAE drops Interpol alerts against debt ‘skippers’

The UAE has removed most of the ‘red notices’ issued to Interpol to try and track down suspects who ‘skipped’ the country due to fraud and financial crimes.

The number of notices issued by the government - which are an official request to all Interpol’s 188 members to arrest those suspected of criminal activity - has dropped from over 200 by the end of 2010 to 47 in March this year.

Many of the notices that appear to have been cancelled by the UAE related to fraud, and have been linked with legislation that deems bounced cheques and some business failures a criminal matter.

An unknown number of expatriates ‘skipped’ the UAE as a result of the financial crisis, while reports suggested in 2007 that as many as 40 percent of the inmates in Dubai Central Prison were there for failing to repay bank loans.

The Gulf region’s consumer credit rose by 460 percent between 2002 and 2008 to reach US$151bn.

According to Interpol’s online records, only one British national is now the subject of UAE-requested ‘red notice’. Christopher Lockwood, aged 64, is wanted in connection with the high-profile assassination of a Hamas leader in Dubai in 2010.

Most of the other existing notices issued by the UAE are related to crimes such as murder and manslaughter. There are still two notices related to ‘banking/financial fraud’ and three related to ‘fraud’.

Local officials are currently working on a draft of the UAE’s first ever bankruptcy law, which is likely to be completed by the end of the year.

“I am pleased for those who can finally live without the fear of being arrested and possibly extradited to the UAE for matters most countries consider civil,” Radha Stirling, a British lawyer and founder of the ‘Detained in Dubai’ support group, told Arabian Business in an email statement.

“We hope that this move will improve the credibility of the other UAE-issued Interpol notices for more serious crimes and we can now focus on negotiating with banks to repay debts, rather than extradition hearings.”


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