Abu Dhabi: Women cannot open or manage bank accounts for their children under 18 years of age, according to Central Bank regulations even if they are the children’s sponsors or custodians.
Women who were met with a strong no from the bank urged the government to take swift action and equate men with women in this regard.
A high-profile expatriate working woman and the custodian of two children told Gulf News that the bank she has been dealing with for more than 15 years has refused to open an account for her two children — aged eight and six —aand asked her instead to bring her divorced husband to the bank do so.
“I can’t understand the logic behind it. It is an impossible demand. I am the one who will deposit the money in a bid to secure the education and the future of my children,“ the mother and famous news anchor at a pan Arab TV station in Dubai said.
She said when the government has allowed her to sponsor her two children it means that the government considers her capable of sponsoring her children. It contradicts the bank’s rule when they ask her to bring her ex-husband or one of his brothers to manage the account of her children. The bank hinted that the rule is in compliance with Islamic Sharia.
“I can’t believe that we are in the 21st century and treat women as illegitimate custodians of their own children. This is nothing to do with Sharia. It is a backward understanding of the Sharia which had never dealt with such a case. It is we who implement Sharia, “ she said.
A spokesperson for the Central Bank told Gulf News: “We apply the provisions of Islamic Sharia in this regard. Mothers are legal guardians and trustees and they are not custodians or natural guardians,”
“The UAE is a Muslim country. Only fathers can open bank accounts for their children as they are their natural guardians or custodians,” added the spokesperson.
“If the father is dead, the custodians are either the uncle, the grandfather or the brother from their father’s side. However, the guardian is the one who is designated by the custodian and should replace the custodian if he is absent through a power of attorney issued for this purpose,” Riyad Kirdasy, a consultant at the Ban Globe Advocates and Legal Consultancy, told Gulf News.
“As per Central Bank regulations, we open accounts only for individuals who have completed 21 years of age,” said W. Ahmad, of NBAD customer service.
“All individuals who are 18 years of age are permitted to open a savings account while those who are 18 years of age and employed with government or semi-government entities may also open a current account,” added Ahmad.
“Accounts for saving accounts for minors below 18 years of age may be opened provided that they are opened and operated by the minor’s natural guardian [father] or by the legal guardian [designated by the court],” he explained.
“The husband has to sign the papers in the bank and this is the Central Bank’s policy. Also, if the mother wants to have access to these savings accounts of her children, her husband has to sign a power of attorney for the account per se,” said Ahmad.
Commercial Bank of Abu Dhabi said: “ The father has to sign all documents pertaining to the account and he has also to sign all documents with regard to withdrawals in the future. The husband can give his wife who is a third party a power of attorney to operate the account.”