Expat Entrepreneurs left in ruin by Dubai companies who never pay are then charged under Cybercrime laws for publishing court orders.
A British family man faces Dubai court next week because his brother published an official and publicly available court order on LinkedIn. His brother had shared the document to “prove the theft of funds”. Under the UAE’s strict cybercrime laws, social media posts have put Brits at risk of prison or substantial fines and almost every visitor to the country will be in violation of these vast and vague rules. The details of this case serve as a warning to investors and entrepreneurs considering a place in the sun for their next venture.
British expat entrepreneurs attracted to Dubai are often seen as free labour by local companies who employ them to provide services that they never intend to pay for.
With attractive business conditions and a low tax lifestyle in a billionaire’s dream destination in the sun, British entrepreneurs and professionals have made the move to Dubai, in hope of gaining lucrative business opportunities in the ever developing city. What happens when they find out that Dubai is not just a billionaire’s paradise, but a scammer's paradise too? Dorset resident and chartered engineer, Gary Beamish, knows only too well. He now faces homelessness.
Gary was hired to do a job by two different local companies. He consulted with them, worked hard and expected to be remunerated as per their contract, but when it came to payment, he never received it. Both companies were lucrative and well funded but just “didn’t want to pay”, says Gary. “They seemed to hope I would find the complexities and costs of legal action prohibitive and that I would just eventually go away but I was determined. I had moved my whole family to Dubai and I was just being robbed. I didn’t want them to get away with it”.
Gary opened civil cases against his client, Delma Emirates Group (DEG), and was awarded a judgement in his favour for more than AED 3.6m. After a gruelling and expensive legal application, he thought his woes had come to an end but the ruler of Abu Dhabi has repeatedly given amnesties despite court orders confirming their liability. Year after year, they have been told they can have “another year” to pay the judgement, infuriating the victims. “British businessmen are accepting lucrative contracts that are not worth the paper they’re written on”, said Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai. “It’s hard enough to win against an Emirati in court and most expats fail at the onset, but then the judgements are impossible to enforce on top. It’s an uphill battle and has left professional expats in dire circumstances. If foreigners can not be assured payment for services, they simply shouldn’t go. We have seen hundreds of cases where hard working expats have been duped out of payment, whether it’s by their employer or in a business to business arrangement. This truth has left families in ruins, having lost their life savings or worse, in prison because they are no longer able to pay their own obligations. Gary’s situation is not uncommon. He faces homelessness and is no longer able to pay his bill because the millions owed to him is unenforceable in the UAE”.
With court ordered interest applied, Gary is now owed more than AED 33,000,000 but with amnesties from the Crown Prince, it seems less and less likely he will ever see his money. “It has left us in a situation where we are now defaulting on basic outgoings like rent. British nationals have been imprisoned for owing that kind of money to banks or companies but when it’s the other way around, it seems impossible to enforce”.
As luck would have it, a second company called Al Mubarakia Contracting Co., defaulted on a payment that with compounding court ordered interest, is calculated to exceed AED 80m. “Gary has tried everything to reach an agreement with the companies but there is no incentive to pay when amnesties are provided. The defendants are essentially enjoying a good life at his expense. Worse than that, he has tried to keep himself and his family above the red line for years and is now facing the last pennies in his bank account which could leave him at risk of fines, imprisonment and travel bans. If he is convicted for the cybercrime violation, it’s just more salt on the wound”, explained Ms Stirling.
“The UAE is making it an impossibly complex procedure to enforce judgements against local companies and yet, British nationals have been put behind bars for less. Gary acted with integrity, initiating cases through civil courts instead of criminal, whereas astute locals normally open criminal complaints against foreigners to run in parallel with civil cases, giving them a clear advantage.
“Efforts need to be made in the UAE to address these ongoing issues that make the country hazardous for investment”.
Detained in Dubai: http://www.detainedindubai.org
Detained in Doha: https://www.detainedindoha.org
Radha Stirling: http:///www.radhastirling.com
Due Process International: http://www.dueprocess.international