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  • Writer's pictureAkram Cheik - Lawyer

Business criminal law offenses in the United Arab Emirates

Updated: Jan 8, 2023

Criminal business law offenses in Dubai



In the United Arab Emirates, the policy on white collar crime aims to protect the financial interests of the company and its shareholders, as well as to promote fair and equitable competition in the market. Furthermore, to achieve these objectives, the authorities in the United Arab Emirates have put in place a number of laws and regulations aimed at suppressing business crimes.

Business offenses in the United Arab Emirates are considered serious crimes and carry severe penalties, including prison terms and large fines. Authorities in the United Arab Emirates are also authorized to seize the property and assets of those convicted of business offences.

It is important to note that the authorities in the United Arab Emirates are committed to combating business crimes and are taking steps to ensure effective law enforcement.


In addition, the United Arab Emirates has signed several international conventions on the fight against corruption, including the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the OECD Agreement on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in Business international trade. The country has also introduced a mandatory charitable declaration system for those holding public office, to prevent conflicts of interest and promote transparency in the management of public affairs.

In order to help business leaders respect the legal framework imposed by law in the context of business life, it is necessary to make an overview of the various criminal offenses reprimanded.


In the United Arab Emirates, business offenses are regulated by a number of laws and regulations, including the Commercial Companies Law: this law governs business activities in the United Arab Emirates and provides penalties for entrepreneurs who commit offenses such as breach of trust or fraud.

The Limited Liability Companies Act: This law governs limited liability companies in the United Arab Emirates and provides penalties for business owners who commit offenses such as negligence or breach of their duties as company directors. the company. Thus, in order to prevent company directors from putting themselves in an offending position, this article deals with the most common offenses committed in the Emirates by business leaders.



I – The offenses of commercial companies



A- Abuse of corporate assets in the United Arab Emirates


The offense of misuse of corporate assets is an offense that consists of misappropriating assets or funds belonging to a company for personal use or benefit, without having the right to do so. These can be physical assets, such as machinery or computer equipment, or funds, such as cash or securities. This crime is often committed by corporate executives or high-level employees, who have access to corporate assets and funds and can therefore easily misappropriate them. However, it can also be committed by third parties, such as suppliers or customers, who may attempt to misappropriate company assets or funds.


There are several forms of misuse of corporate assets:


Embezzlement refers to the misappropriation of money or securities belonging to the company for personal gain or profit, without having the right to do so.

Selling company property without permission: This is the act of selling property belonging to the company without authorization to do so, and appropriating the money thus obtained. Giving advantages to third parties without justification: this is the fact of giving advantages to third parties, such as gifts or discounts, without valid justification and without the authorization to do so. The offense of misuse of corporate assets is punishable by law, and the penalties incurred can be heavy, especially in the event of significant damage caused to the company.


B - The offense of corruption in the United Arab Emirates



Corruption is a serious offense that involves accepting or offering money, property or any other advantage to obtain preferential treatment or to influence a decision. In the United Arab Emirates, corruption is governed by the Anti-Corruption Act enacted in 2006.


According to this law, corruption is defined as any act by which a person, in the exercise of his functions or because of his position, requests, accepts or offers money, goods or any other advantage for himself. or for a third party, in return for the performance or non-performance of certain actions or omissions in the performance of his duties or position.


The penalty for bribery in the United Arab Emirates is imprisonment and/or a fine. The length of imprisonment and the amount of the fine depend on the seriousness of the offence. If the corruption has resulted in financial losses to the organization, the manager may be required to repay those losses.




II – Offenses of embezzlement and concealment of funds belonging to the company



A - The money laundering offense in the United Arab Emirates


Money laundering is a serious offense which consists in concealing the illegal origin of funds or goods by passing them off as legally acquired funds or goods. In the United Arab Emirates, money laundering is regulated by the Federal Law on Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing enacted in 2002.


According to this law, money laundering is defined as any act aimed at concealing the origin, nature, location, movement, acquisition, possession or use of funds or property obtained illegally, by making believe that they were legally acquired.

The penalty for money laundering in the UAE is imprisonment and/or a fine. The length of imprisonment and the amount of the fine depend on the seriousness of the offence.



B – The offense of bankruptcy in the United Arab Emirates


Bankruptcy is a crime that involves concealing or misappropriating property to avoid repaying debts. In the United Arab Emirates, bankruptcy is governed by the Federal Bankruptcy Law enacted in 1993.

According to this law, bankruptcy is defined as any act by which a person deliberately or fraudulently conceals or misappropriates property to avoid repaying debts.


The penalty for bankruptcy in the United Arab Emirates is imprisonment and/or a fine. The length of imprisonment and the amount of the fine depend on the seriousness of the bankruptcy offence.


In case of doubt as to a potentially criminal situation, the firm accompanies you and advises you on all questions relating to criminal matters in the Emirates.



Akram Cheik, Lawyer in UAE for Nextcap

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