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New graft rule in UAE praised

posted on 30/12/2009: 849 views

As part of the Dubai Government's policy of zero tolerance for corruption, the government on Tuesday introduced a tough law that imposes heavy penalties and jail terms on those who embezzle public funds.

Under the new law, individuals convicted of corruption will face five to 20 years imprisonment. But the law also allows "the immediate release" of those convicted of fraud "once they fully return the money to their lawful owners or through settlement agreements negotiated with their debtors," a government statement said.

Welcoming the new law, Dubai's Police Chief, Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, told Gulf News on Tuesday that those who amassed wealth by misappropriating public funds will return them at the first opportunity to avoid tough action.

"There is no one above the law. The law will have no exception and everyone who has embezzled government money will be punished severely," said Dhahi.

Adding that the law had come at the right time, he said: "The economic situation and the credit crunch gave us clear indications about a number of officials and public servants who misused their office for their own interest and got illegal fortunes. Such greed and criminal acts will not be allowed to continue unpunished."

The new law, according to him, will cover cases that are already under investigation and also cases where investigations have yet to start. "These people should be aware that we do know them. They should act immediately to return the money to the government before it is too late," he warned.

Ahmad Humaid Al Tayer, governor of the Dubai International Financial Centre, said the new law is a timely move to protect the public wealth from corruption.

"The law is a very good initiative to fill the gaps that exist in the current legislations which don't suit the international standard. This law is to protect the public funds and deter those people who misused or might misuse the government money and their posts to serve their personal interests," Al Tayer told Gulf News.

Self-seeking individuals have caused serious damage to the national economy and affected the government by bringing heavy debt liabilities on public companies and exposing them to great losses, he added. "These people have amassed illegal wealth at the cost of public funds. The law has given them the option to amend their ways and hand over the public money they have embezzled through illegal means."

The law gives an opportunity for even those who are imprisoned for corruption to return the money by contacting people outside to access their secret accounts to facilitate the return of public money.

According to Al Tayer, there have been instances where corrupt officials established bogus businesses to conceal the money they had diverted from the government coffers.

Al Tayer said that the government has issued in the last two weeks a number of rules and regulations to enhance internal auditing in government institutions and to maintain a healthy framework.

Such laws will help to set up the rules and restrictions and will help to manage the flow of funds as well as aid the restructuring process, he said.

Essam Eisa Al Humaidan, Dubai Attorney General, observed: "Within my authority, the law will be imposed on the convicted defendants for embezzling public funds."

He added: "In such cases and after issuing the final decision of the criminal court, the government can file a civil case against the accused people to return the public money."

Once the defendants have returned the money fully, they will be released immediately from prison provided they have completed their jail term for abuse of public authority, Al Humaidan added.

"This law is a developed version of the existing one which suits the current economic situation. However, the manner of control and auditing in the government institutions has become stronger and with solid bases."

Al Humaidan said corrupt individuals were more inclined to pursue personal gains and were generally in no position to impact government institutions' policies. – Gulf News


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