We are contacted relentlessly by people who are concerned that they may be listed on the gulf region´s version of Interpol, GCCPol, headed up in Abu Dhabi.
GCCPol is used by authorities in the gulf to locate parties who are wanted within the gulf region. A lot of wanted persons have pending cases covering crimes such as fraud, breach of trust, embezzlement, bounced cheques and commonly, bank debts and mortgage defaults.
Most queries that we receive arise from expatriates who have lived and worked in the UAE and have needed to leave the country in order to avoid being imprisoned for debts or other financial crimes. Most have good intentions and wish to repay their debts or negotiate settlements with the claimant or institution but need to work to be able to fulfil their obligations.
Having left the UAE, there are other opportunities within the gulf in countries such as Bahrain, Qatar & Saudi Arabia. Continuing employment in the middle east will allow them to resolve their issues in the UAE faster but are they at risk of extradition?
Firstly, it is important to know whether one is listed on the GCCPol prior to travel so as to be prepared for delays and the possibility of requiring legal assistance. Approximately 40% of our clients discover that their name is active on GCCPol. However, the ramifications for most clients are minimal. The UAE has not been overly active in seeking extraditions.
Wanted persons are often delayed at borders when arriving or departing, requiring to explain to authorities what the notice is in reference to. Employers can search the database and may decide not to proceed with visa applications.
Qatar has clearly not taken UAE reports very seriously and usually only causes delays at the airports. In one case, the UAE requested extradition from Qatar but the Qatari airport authorities declined on the spot and let the British national through without retaining his passport.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, if one is listed on GCCPol, gulf authorities will be aware of the warrant and there is always the possibility that the UAE could push for extradition. Even though the UAE has not been very aggressive with their pursuits, this could change at any time. If a gulf member country allows the extradition request to be heard, one could be subjected to lengthy and costly legal proceedings and there is no assurance that bail will be approved.
We always advise clients to perform a check to see whether they are listed on GCCPol in advance of travel. If they are, we can prepare and advise them in respect of methods that can be employed to reduce their risk of apprehension. Where possible, we always strive to resolve the issues from within the UAE so that the risks are not just mitigated, but eliminated.