Working for Emirates Airlines could mean arrest, imprisonment and Interpol warrants
“It’s like a repeat of 2009, only worse”, said Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai. “The last time the economy was hit hard, pilots and cabin crew were among the hardest hit. Airline staff are being actively targeted by major banks in the UAE for easy credits and mortgages. , but for many accepting these offers quickly backfired and turned into a nightmare.
“Dubai’s economy is fragile. Any global crisis will impact air travel and staff will soon be laid off, especially in a country where tourism is a major economic contributor. The banks are aware of this, they have seen it time and time again, but they themselves are bailed out when they overexpose themselves, so they have little incentive to be careful.
“For customers, they claim the loans are covered by insurance, so it seems pretty risk-free. If they’re laid off, the bank’s insurance will cover the debt. Why not take out a loan then? Why not Taking out a mortgage seems like a good idea, especially if they find themselves with a place in the sun!
“After the global economic crisis, customers became aware of the stark reality that banks didn’t care whether or not they were covered by insurance. When a client was fired by his employer and then pleaded with the bank for an empathetic suspension of payment, he encountered hostile debt collection agencies like Tahseel, who were more than happy to push defaults to the limit. to imprisonment, which, in fact, is a quick process of only three months. Their thinking is that the threat of imprisonment will scare enough any parent who might be able to help the debtor avoid imprisonment.
“Of course, the threat of imprisonment only works when the client stays in the country. 2009 saw a mass exodus of expats, dumping their cars at airports and even abandoning their apartments and villas. The future was uncertain, there would be no work and they could not pay their obligations. Whether they left because they were going to become homeless or because they knew they could be imprisoned, the effect on banks has been massive defaults.
“Those who remained in the country made a bet that they would find another job before going into default. It was a huge gamble and the economic impact of the coronavirus shutdown is already predicted to exceed the turmoil of 2009. Those who choose to stay in the country risk being banned from travel due to financial obligations. Hundreds of expats have been banned from traveling to the UAE due to bank debts and the problem is that their passports are confiscated, their visas expire and they have no legal permission to work. How is someone going to repay a bank debt in this situation? They are not! That’s why we have people like Jonathan Castle and Morag Koussa who have been stuck there for years, separated from their families and at risk of becoming homeless.
“The UAE needs to reassess its approach to default. While I understand that lax credit regulations leave banks open to deliberate fraud, most people are sincere in their intent. Keeping them, effectively prisoners in the country, is detrimental to its growth. This forces expats to abandon ship at the first sign of an economic downturn and the threat of imprisonment means they cannot return if they are offered a new job later. This leaves Dubai relying on new blood to keep the cogs running, much like a Ponzi scheme. Finally, he runs out of breath.
“Expats don’t really feel the longevity in Dubai, not when their security can be so easily ripped out from under them with the snap of a finger. This is something the UAE needs to work on if it wants to attract talent from foreground in the longer term.
“Airline staff have already been laid off, and many more expect to be next. Just in the past few days I have received calls and emails from cabin crew concerned about what will happen next They know they will not be able to meet their financial obligations and may be out of work indefinitely and seek advice on whether they will be listed in the Interpol database as only fugitives. The answer is probably yes.
“Most business sectors are suffering from the global coronavirus frenzy and prolonged lockdown and when they leave the UAE and drop their mortgages, loans and credit cards, banks will resort to secondary enforcement tactics . They have missed the firing of their main weapon, that of prison, so they will resort to their arsenal of backup, to harassment, to international bankruptcies and to the dreaded red notice of Interpol; for pilots, it’s a nightmare!
“Over the past decade, we have worked on incredible cases of stalking by banks and their agents. The extent to which they are willing to go is unfathomable for the most part, often even for branches of major international banks who could never get away with this behavior from their western branches. The banks themselves or through debt collection agencies systematically harassed customers, their families and new employers, often causing them to be fired, which could be seen as counterproductive to recovering the are due. However, they do not want a reputation for weakness to be perpetuated in the world.
“On occasion, banks have flown in staff to show up in person and try to meet a customer. Emirates NBD I remember, flew a manager to meet an Emirates captain at an airport in Germany to discuss his mortgage. They did not negotiate a reduction in his payments and instead reported him to the Interpol database. Luckily for him he wasn’t flying internationally at the time but was stunned when he later became a simulator instructor in Madrid and one day found himself in a Spanish police station wondering why hell the police were treating him like an international fugitive. Over a mortgage? Oh good?
“In Italy, an Emirates flight attendant was arrested on the basis of a red notice from Interpol in Rome. She was detained for several days and subject to extradition proceedings, as if she was a mafia boss. Incredibly, it was for a small credit card debt. She was placed under house arrest in a hotel, paid for by her, while she endured a lengthy trial. Eventually, the extradition request was rejected. But did the banks really want her back in Dubai? No, they wanted to harass her and use the Interpol arrest warrant to force her to pay sums that she did not just couldn’t afford. If she couldn’t afford it then, she definitely couldn’t afford it after being slammed with legal and hotel bills. Now she’s waiting to be removed from the database from Interpol and, ridiculously, last week she was surrounded by eight po Italian liciers in a hotel restaurant, as the removal of the review is still being processed. She was mortified, embarrassed, and rightly angry with the bank. We are now considering legal action against the bank. It is time for them to be held accountable.
“Interpol can take up to nine months or more to remove notices, and there are no checks and balances when a red notice is issued by the UAE. To accommodate their reporting rules, banks will change the category from “debt” to “fraud” to ensure their notice is listed. They effectively use Interpol as their own free debt collection and harassment agent. We have notified Interpol of the abusive practices, but they are heavily funded by countries like the UAE and Qatar and currently have no disciplinary procedures in place for abusive member states.
“I expect to see a repeat of the devastation caused in 2009 and have warned expats to leave the country rather than risk being imprisoned or banned from travel. It is important to be proactive in dealing with debt, but keep in mind that banks can be sneaky and once in default they are no longer your friend. Once employment is terminated, bank customers must leave very quickly, before the employer notifies the bank. Mere notification of a job termination has caused banks to unfairly and suddenly request loans or issue travel bans.
“Businessmen are also told that banks are prone to ask for loans unfairly, just because they need to increase their cash reserves. This can lead to business failure and travel bans for directors.
Finally, those who stayed in 2009 in hopes of saving their businesses or mitigating their exposure to banks are at risk of imprisonment for bad checks or payment defaults. There was no consideration for their goodwill and intentions when they were sent to prison. Be diligent, anticipate risks, and resolve business and financial issues from the safety of your own country.
Source: Detained in Dubai