Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption Laws in the UAE

Corruption is indisputably a threat to a society’s and a nation’s economic well-being. The UAE government always has prioritized the suppression of corrupt practices. Nonetheless, there are no thorough anti-corruption and anti-bribery laws in effect in the United Arab Emirates. Despite this, the UAE has been combatting bribery and corruption since 1980.

It has explicitly implemented the foremost provisions concerning corruption and bribery into the major law, Federal Law 3/1987, as revised afterward as the UAE Federal Penal Code, as well as other federal and state laws. The federal legislation explicitly prohibits corruption, asset misappropriation, bribery, and misuse of power/office, among other things.

Anti-corruption bilateral and multilateral instruments

The UAE supports the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in accordance with Federal Decree-Law 8/2006. On December 21, 2010, the UAE joined the Arab Convention to combat corruption, which involves 21 Arab countries, including the UAE. The UNCAC and the Arab Council were both established specifically to fight corruption on a worldwide and regional scale.

With several nations approving the agreement, a cohesive front against corrupt practices is being presented, and all member nations are addressing the issue in the same or similar aspects. Participation in the Arab Council is also crucial. The Arab states encounter distinctive problems with corruption that may not be relevant in the wider world, so it is critical that the Arab states join hands together to tackle corruption on a regional level.

Directives and guidelines

The government has formulated the regulations and laws on corruption and bribery, as well as formed obligations for businesses in the Federal Law 2/2015 on commercial companies, which outlines the commitments that businesses must follow. This included the necessity to assign an entirely independent auditor who is referenced in the Register of Auditors and Accountants in accordance with the Federal Law 12/2014 on the Organization of the Auditing Profession. This law governs the auditing and accounting professions, requiring auditors to have more than 5 years of experience auditing public and private enterprises.

The specific provisions concerning corruption and bribery are primarily outlined in Articles 234 to 239 of the UAE Penal Code. It explicitly prohibits bribery and has imposed severe penalties on those who commit this crime. Accepting bribes by private and public sector employees is a major crime, as per Articles 234, 235, and 237. It is a serious offence under the aforementioned articles for a government servant, international public official, an official of an international body, or foreign service employee to demand or receive a bribe for himself or another individual.

Under Article 65 of the Penal Code, businesses were made accountable for the unlawful conduct of corruption, asset misappropriation, and bribery committed by their directors, officials, or representatives acting on their behalf, or the company’s failure to act, even if they were conscious of such offensive actions or were not aware of the details. The employer is legally responsible for its staff members’ negligent actions under Civil Transactions Law 5/1985. The Federal Law 2/2015 concerning commercial companies, the Company Law, imposes obligations on businesses to avert fraud and corruption.

Some other provisions, as specified below, have the secondary effect of countering bribery and corruption:

  • Criminalization of money laundering – Federal Law 4/2002.
  • Combating terrorism crimes – Federal Law 7/2014.
  • Combating money laundering crimes – Federal Law 9/2014 revising certain clauses of Federal Law 4/2002.
  • Financial crimes – Dubai Law 4/2016.
  • Cabinet resolution 38/2014.
  • Executive resolution of Federal Law 4/2002.
  • The laws governing assertions by tourists entering or exiting the UAE holding cash or negotiable instruments.

Criminal offences identified in the anti-corruption legislation

The anti-corruption legislation is premised on the Federal Penal Code, which includes the majority of criminal offences. Below mentioned is not an extensive list; rather, it spotlights a few examples of offences defined in anti-corruption regulations.

  • Corruption
  • Misappropriation
  • Financial crimes.
  • Terrorist financing.
  • Guaranteeing a corporation loan to a chief or individual in power.
  • Exposure of classified information.
  • Obstructing justice.
  • Judicial decisions made willfully against the facts.
  • The intentional provision of incorrect facts by judicial officers.
  • Bias against a specific party by judicial officers.
  • Giving incorrect information to officials for personal gain.

Governing bodies

Dubai Economic Security Centre (DESC) was formed by the emirate of Dubai to oversee and combat corruption and bribery. DESC possesses a wide range of capabilities, including:

  • Recommending and advising regulations that govern financial affairs in Dubai.
  • Tracking violence and financial discrepancies in Dubai.
  • Preparing and releasing periodical data and information on the economic and financial state of Dubai.
  • Fighting corruption, asset misappropriation, forgery, bribery, fraud, money laundering, and other felonies committed by entities subject to DESC’s jurisdiction.
  • Closely monitoring the transactions of both listed and unlisted currencies, precious metals, securities, and commodities.

The DESC has the authority to halt stock market trading, revoke, stop, or restart any financial sector regulatory requirements, and acquire bank information for any natural or juridical individual. During the investigative process, it may request that the Public Prosecutor confiscate funds, records, and other items relevant to the court case.

Several government entities are in charge of regulating anti-bribery and corruption regulations as mentioned below:

  • The Abu Dhabi Accountability Authority (the anti-corruption unit) formed in 2015 by Abu Dhabi Law 14/2008, which pertains to public entities.
  • The State Audit Institution (SAI), which also audits public-sector organizations.
  • The UAE Central Bank’s Anti-money Laundering and Suspicious Cases Unit.
  • The United Arab Emirates’ police forces, with jurisdiction limited to each emirate.
  • The Dubai Financial Services Authority of the Dubai International Financial Centre, the only free zone with its own authority.

How can Bin Eid Advocates help you?

Our competent lawyers offer relevant opinions and consultation in accordance with the fraudulent activity, corruption charges, enforcement agencies and interrogations, public affairs management, among other matters. We assist businesses in establishing representation pacts, appointing agents, conducting proper research during mergers and acquisitions and joint ventures, instructing on staff training to safeguard them from criminal practices, and representing them in criminal trials and interrogations.

Our seasoned legal team has dealt with various corruption-related situations allowing us to develop better business practices and legal approaches. We assist everyone in protecting their prestige, from large multinationals to small businesses and individuals impacted by fraudulent activities of private or government establishments. We work hard to stay on top of every regulatory development and judicial provision such that our proficient team could provide the best advice in a reasonable timeframe.

The UAE takes anti-corruption regulation very seriously, both in the public and private sectors and also against both businesses and individuals. The very serious and real threat of fines and imprisonment is a strong motivator for both people and enterprises to avoid fraud and corruption.

The Federal Penal Code was recently revised to include additional provisions for corrupt practices, and new developments in the fight against corruption and bribery are declared on a continuous basis. These measures are part of a broader anti-corruption move in the Gulf region toward increased accountability and anti-corruption scrutiny.

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