x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

UAE anti-fraud bill under review

New commercial fraud bill under review by a Federal National Council committee will put an end to counterfeit product and replica sales and smuggling.

ABU DHABI // An anti-fraud bill under review by a Federal National Council committee is intended to curb counterfeit products, replica sales and smuggling.

Commercial fraud is minimal when it comes to food and medication but fake bags, toys, clothes, electronics and even car parts are common.

“That does not mean it is not there 100 per cent, but it is limited with food and medicine,” said Ali Al Nuaimi (Ajman), deputy head of the finance committee, which is debating the 25-article bill privately.

“But imitations of brands and replicas are in the market. This law will play a big role to stop this.”

There is no legislation to fight commercial fraud and a law dating to 1979 does not specifically cover replicas, which are the most prevalent problem in the market.

The Ministry of Economy, which drafted the new bill, said the law was outdated.

Mr Al Nuaimi said the sale of replicas was not a legitimate practice and consumers had been warned against buying such items.

Under the proposed law, those caught smuggling or selling fake brands face up to two years in prison and a fine of between Dh50,000 and Dh250,0000. The punishment is still subject to change after FNC debates.

While the existing law allows for imprisonment, the fines are substantially lower.

Those who commit commercial fraud in human or animal food products or medication could face the same prison term and up to Dh1 million in fines, up from the previous Dh10,000 fine.

The new bill also punishes establishments that advertise bogus prizes and those with unclear product descriptions on items for sale.

“We are still going over the bill. We will amend a lot, I suspect,” Mr Al Nuaimi said. “We are working on it to see if it is appropriate or not. It is not final until we fix it.”

He anticipated many amendments would be made.

“This law is much more comprehensive. I hope it will benefit the general public.”

Mr Al Nuaimi said the main purpose of the law was to reassure citizens, residents and tourists that the products they buy are genuine and consumers are not being cheated.

He said it was important for consumers to have full confidence in UAE markets.

“People who are affected by this are the public, so there must be a comprehensive law to ensure consumers are confident in UAE products,” he said. “Thankfully, in comparison to other countries, the UAE does a lot in this field.

“In the future, local and economic entities will play an even bigger role to combat the crime.”

Once the committee has finished its proposed amendments, the bill will be debated publicly in the FNC in the presence of the Minister of Economy, Sultan Al Mansouri.

Last year, Humaid bin Butti Al Muhairi, undersecretary at the ministry, said the UAE played a leading role in fighting counterfeit products through policies or amending laws to protect the rights of intellectual property.

He said the fake goods industry needed to be fought as it was a burden on the country’s economy, and that brand owners suffered heavy losses through counterfeiting.

Due to the high number of laws already in line to be debated in the council, Mr Al Nuaimi expects the law to be passed by the FNC to the President, Sheikh Khalifa, for final approval by the summer.

osalem@thenational.ae