Illustration by Alex Belman
Illustration by Alex Belman

The Debt Panel: 'The banks harass me and threaten to bounce cheques but is that still a criminal offence?'



I have so many liabilities and the bank collection departments are always harassing me. They want to file a case against me and tell me they will deposit my security cheques, some of which are in Abu Dhabi. Is it the case that bouncing a cheque is no longer a criminal offence? I work in the oil and gas industry in Dubai, earning Dh15,000 as an expeditor, and have lived in the UAE since 2002. My debt issues started when I started paying for my mother's medical expenses in the Philippines, where she is on weekly dialysis.

In total, I owe:

Outstanding/monthly repayments/months of delayed payment

Credit card:  Dh36,000/Dh2,500/three months

Loan 1: Dh18,000/Dh1,420/three months

Loan 2: Dh8,000/Dh1,000/three months

Loan 3: Dh30,000/Dh1,700/ three months

Loan 4: Dh149,000/Dh7,000/ on time

My monthly expenses are: 

Payments for loan 4: Dh7,000

House Rent: Dh3,500

Food: Dh1,500

Money sent to the Philippines: Dh2,000

Balance: Dh1,000

 What should I do?  

EM, Dubai 

Debt panellist 1: Kunal Malani, head of customer value management at HSBC

I am sorry to hear about your mother's health and hope she is recovering well. While I can appreciate the underlying need to borrow money for your mother's medical expense, you have borrowed far in excess of your ability to repay. It also looks like the banks you borrowed from were not made aware of your previous borrowings, else they may have reconsidered before extending you loans 2, 3 and 4. Your current level of debt outstanding and ongoing repayment obligations, plus expenses against your income are clearly unsustainable.

Readers should note that the UAE now has a credit bureau where banks can access information about your current levels of debt, your monthly instalments and your credit card outstanding. This helps banks and customers manage individual debt obligations better, before opting for any new loans. This also helps people be more aware of their personal liabilities.

EM, you are best off working with these banks on a formal settlement agreement, if they agree to offer you a settlement. At a minimum, you could talk to Bank 4 about increasing your loan so you can consolidate your credit card (which might have a high rate of interest) and your smaller loans into one loan. You might also want to ask them for a longer tenure to reduce your monthly payments. That way, at least Banks 1 and 2 – where you have smaller loans – will stop following up with you.

However, even with doing everything of the above, it may still not be enough. If it is possible you may consider arranging to dispose of any personal assets you might have either here or back home in Philippines to help contribute to repaying your obligations.

With regards to bouncing a cheque – the laws have evolved but it is still very much considered an offence. The Dubai Courts could issue you a fine and could still impose a travel ban on you for unpaid debt. You are best off working with your bank towards an amicable settlement.

_____

Read more:

It is possible to restructure debt directly with UAE banks, a Sharjah resident reveals how

The Debt Panel: 'The banks won't negotiate because my Dh180,000 debt situation is not bad enough'

The Debt Panel: 'I owe Dh82,000 to loan sharks for an apartment I sublet to earn Dh6,000 a month'

_____

Debt panellist 2: Rasheda Khatun Khan, a wealth and wellness planner

The first thing to do is contact all the banks. Explain your situation and see what solutions they have. Perhaps you can request a deferment or restructure. Start with the bank with the Dh149,000 loan attached. As you have kept up all payments you may be able to negotiate a restructure or deferment. This way you can release funds to repay the other loans too.

Another option to explore is a consolidation loan. This is where a bank will transfer the lending onto a manageable monthly installment loan over a number of years. You can make a request at the bank if this is on option for you. Alternatively, explore debt consolidation companies; their primary objective is to negotiate with the banks and act as a go-between to help you source the consolidation loan. If they are able to find you the consolidation loan, they will then charge you a fee depending on the complexity of your case.  Sometimes this avenue is more helpful as they have relationships with banks to be able to get authorisation on a loan that you are not at first attempt.

On the other hand, it can also be useful to approach the banks yourself - but in this instance you need to be equipped with your own numbers, knowing what you can afford to repay on a monthly basis. Make sure you go through your expenses and come up with a realistic figure for your monthly repayments towards repaying debt. That way you know what you can actually afford otherwise you risk ending up in the same situation again.

Bouncing a cheque still has it's consequences. Recently Dubai Courts announced the issue of fines instead of jail terms for bounced cheques from December 2017. This still should be avoided as it will only increase the amount of debt, especially if you do not have the money to pay the fines.

What is most important here is stopping this cycle of borrowing. You must ensure your total monthly expenses are less than your monthly income. Ask other family members if they can cover some of your family medical costs at this time to help you avoid any more repercussions.

______

Read more:

A nine-step guide to help you renegotiate bank debts in the UAE

The Debt Panel: 'I bailed out my mum when my dad died and now owe over Dh240,000'

The Debt Panel: 'I borrowed Dh50,000 on credit cards to pay family medical expenses and friends' shopping bills'

_____

Debt panellist 3: Michael Routledge, a debt adviser 

The changes in the bounced cheque regulations only relate to Dubai, and although a cheque bounced in Dubai will not longer through a court, you will be fined. Looking at your salary versus you your cost of living I’d want to understand a few more details.

Rent: your rent is currently Dh42,000 per year, which I think could be reduced if you were to consider shared accommodation until your debts are paid off.

Money to send back home: I understood from the breakdown of your costs that you pay for your mother's dialysis, does this cost Dh2,000 per month or can this be reduced?

Balance: as you’ve mentioned food etc. in your cost of living why do you need a ‘balance’. Theoretically you could pay that Dh1,000 off of Loan 2 and clear it in eight months.

As is often my response, you should prepare a detailed, transparent statement of accounts that shows your creditors your salary, cost of living, and a breakdown of your debts. You should also obtain your credit report from the Al Etihad Credit Bureau to support this. Please be aware that your lenders will likely not accept the payments sent back to the Philippines as a genuine cost of living.

I believe with some reasonable cost cutting, and some negotiation with your lenders there is no reason why you cannot service the debt you have accumulated, but be prepared for a lot of hard work, as your lenders will undoubtedly push back at your first attempt.

On this panel this week: Kunal Malani, head of customer value management, UAE and Mena at HSBC Middle East; Rasheda Khatun Khan, a wealth and wellness planner and founder of Design Your Life and Michael Routledge, a UAE-based debt adviser

The Debt Panel is a weekly column to help readers tackle their debts more effectively. If you have a question for the panel, write to pf@thenational.ae

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

6.30pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round-3 Group 1 (PA) | US$95,000 | (Dirt) 2,000m
7.05pm: Meydan Classic Listed (TB) ) | $175,000) | (Turf) 1,600m
7.40pm: Handicap (TB) ) | $135,000 ) | (D) 1,600m
8.15pm: Nad Al Sheba Trophy Group 3 (TB) ) | $300,000) | (T) 2,810m
8.50pm: Curlin Handicap Listed (TB)) | $160,000) | (D) 2,000m
9.25pm: Handicap (TB)) | $175,000) | (T) 1,400m
10pm: Handicap (TB) ) | $135,000 ) | (T) 2,000m

Graduated from the American University of Sharjah

She is the eldest of three brothers and two sisters

Has helped solve 15 cases of electric shocks

Enjoys travelling, reading and horse riding

 

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian

Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).

Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming

Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics

Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).


Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).


Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

SERIES INFO

Schedule:
All matches at the Harare Sports Club
1st ODI, Wed Apr 10
2nd ODI, Fri Apr 12
3rd ODI, Sun Apr 14
4th ODI, Sun Apr 16

UAE squad
Mohammed Naveed (captain), Rohan Mustafa, Ashfaq Ahmed, Shaiman Anwar, Mohammed Usman, CP Rizwan, Chirag Suri, Mohammed Boota, Ghulam Shabber, Sultan Ahmed, Imran Haider, Amir Hayat, Zahoor Khan, Qadeer Ahmed

Zimbabwe squad
Peter Moor (captain), Solomon Mire, Brian Chari, Regis Chakabva, Sean Williams, Timycen Maruma, Sikandar Raza, Donald Tiripano, Kyle Jarvis, Tendai Chatara, Chris Mpofu, Craig Ervine, Brandon Mavuta, Ainsley Ndlovu, Tony Munyonga, Elton Chigumbura

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

Wonka

Director: Paul King

Starring: Timothee Chalamet, Olivia Colman, Hugh Grant

Rating: 2/5

The specs

Engine: 3.8-litre twin-turbo flat-six

Power: 650hp at 6,750rpm

Torque: 800Nm from 2,500-4,000rpm

Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch auto

Fuel consumption: 11.12L/100km

Price: From Dh796,600

On sale: now

'The Batman'

Stars:Robert Pattinson

Director:Matt Reeves

Rating: 5/5

Results

5.30pm: Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (Dirt) 1,600m, Winner: Panadol, Mickael Barzalona (jockey), Salem bin Ghadayer (trainer)

6.05pm: Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (Turf) 1,400m, Winner: Mayehaab, Adrie de Vries, Fawzi Nass

6.40pm: Handicap (TB) Dh85,000 (D) 1,600m, Winner: Monoski, Mickael Barzalona, Salem bin Ghadayer

7.15pm: Handicap (TB) Dh102,500 (T) 1,800m, Winner: Eastern World, Royston Ffrench, Charlie Appleby

7.50pm: Handicap (TB) Dh92,500 (D) 1,200m, Winner: Madkal, Adrie de Vries, Fawzi Nass

8.25pm: Handicap (TB) Dh92,500 (T) 1,200m, Winner: Taneen, Dane O’Neill, Musabah Al Muhairi

Our legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Results

2.30pm: Park Avenue – Conditions (PA) Dh80,000 (Dirt) 2,000m; Winner: Rb Seqondtonone, Abdul Aziz Al Balushi (jockey), Helal Al Alawi (trainer)

3.05pm: Al Furjan – Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (Turf) 1,200m; Winner: Bosphorus, Dane O’Neill, Bhupat Seemar

3.40pm: Mina – Rated Condition (TB) Dh105,000 (D) 1,600m; Winner: Royal Mews, Tadhg O’Shea, Bhupat Seemar

4.15pm: Aliyah – Handicap (TB) Dh87,500 (T) 1,900m; Winner: Ursa Minor, Ray Dawson, Ahmad bin Harmash

4.50pm: Riviera Beach – Rated Conditions (TB) Dh95,000 (D) 2,200m; Winner: Woodditton, Saif Al Balushi, Ahmad bin Harmash

5.25pm: Riviera – Handicap (TB) Dh2,000 (T) 2,000m; Winner: Al Madhar, Antonio Fresu, Musabah Al Muhairi

6pm: Creek Views – Handicap (TB) Dh95,000 (T) 1,400m; Winner: Al Salt, Dane O’Neill, Erwan Charpy

THE BIO

Occupation: Specialised chief medical laboratory technologist

Age: 78

Favourite destination: Always Al Ain “Dar Al Zain”

Hobbies: his work  - “ the thing which I am most passionate for and which occupied all my time in the morning and evening from 1963 to 2019”

Other hobbies: football

Favorite football club: Al Ain Sports Club

 

No more lice

Defining head lice

Pediculus humanus capitis are tiny wingless insects that feed on blood from the human scalp. The adult head louse is up to 3mm long, has six legs, and is tan to greyish-white in colour. The female lives up to four weeks and, once mature, can lay up to 10 eggs per day. These tiny nits firmly attach to the base of the hair shaft, get incubated by body heat and hatch in eight days or so.

Identifying lice

Lice can be identified by itching or a tickling sensation of something moving within the hair. One can confirm that a person has lice by looking closely through the hair and scalp for nits, nymphs or lice. Head lice are most frequently located behind the ears and near the neckline.

Treating lice at home

Head lice must be treated as soon as they are spotted. Start by checking everyone in the family for them, then follow these steps. Remove and wash all clothing and bedding with hot water. Apply medicine according to the label instructions. If some live lice are still found eight to 12 hours after treatment, but are moving more slowly than before, do not re-treat. Comb dead and remaining live lice out of the hair using a fine-toothed comb.
After the initial treatment, check for, comb and remove nits and lice from hair every two to three days. Soak combs and brushes in hot water for 10 minutes.Vacuum the floor and furniture, particularly where the infested person sat or lay.

Courtesy Dr Vishal Rajmal Mehta, specialist paediatrics, RAK Hospital

MATCH INFO

Europa League final

Marseille 0

Atletico Madrid 3
Greizmann (21', 49'), Gabi (89')

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

PREMIER LEAGUE FIXTURES

All times UAE (+4 GMT)

Saturday
West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur (3.30pm)
Burnley v Huddersfield Town (7pm)
Everton v Bournemouth (7pm)
Manchester City v Crystal Palace (7pm)
Southampton v Manchester United (7pm)
Stoke City v Chelsea (7pm)
Swansea City v Watford (7pm)
Leicester City v Liverpool (8.30pm)

Sunday
Brighton and Hove Albion v Newcastle United (7pm)

Monday
Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion (11pm)


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