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Will We Be Arrested Because of my Debt in Qatar if We Leave the US?

Written by Steve Rhode

Question:

Dear Steve,

My husband was working in Qatar and we borrowed money from QNB there. The intention was to buy some land in the US and continue working in Qatar for a few years to pay it off.

However, during our summer holidays my mother became unexpectedly ill (she almost died) and my husband broke his contract to remain in the US. We went 4 months without a paycheck so we’re unable to make payments on the loan. We would like to continue paying it off, but don’t know how to do that from the US. We are apprehensive to directly wire money from our primary account to the bank there. We are worried about legal ramifications as well.

Is it in our best interest to settle the debt with the bank? Will we get in trouble if we contact them? This has caused tremendous stress and would like to just move forward in good standing. Will we be arrested if we ever travel outside the US if the loan goes unpaid?

Cat

Answer:

Dear Cat,

I can give you some general advice based on my experiences. I’m not a lawyer and can’t give you legal advice.

I think there are two different issues here. The first is the reality of the situation you were facing and the decision to remain in the United States due to family needs. Nobody should fault you for that, life happens.

The problem with all lending agreements is they require payment each month and make no allowance for the unpredictable nature of real life.

If the lender filed a police case against you then it would have been filed in Qatar and any arrest notice would most likely exist in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman. I would stay out of those countries.

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Other than those countries, I have never heard of any residual problems from a GCC debt about getting arrested.

International collections are odd. In some countries, debt collectors can do some pretty extreme things. China, India, and the Philippines come to mind.

It is not a big issue here in the United States.

In dealing with the debt I think there are two issues. The first is if it makes mathematical sense to deal with it. Can you afford to make a payment promise? It would not be smart to begin an effort to repay the debt if you simply can’t afford to.

The second issue is dealing with the bank. You are not in a position of strength to deal with them since you are the person with the least amount of experience with these issues and also the most emotionally attached. It could be very easy for the bank to scare you into overpromising to make a repayment you simply can’t afford.

I think an intermediary in these situations can make sense. One option would be to find an attorney in Qatar to hire and represent you in negotiations. A second option would be to talk to my debt coach friend Damon Day or another experienced U.S. based debt coach to give you specific advice and/or help you communicate with the bank back in Qatar.

This isn’t an impossible situation to resolve, just a bit complicated. Please come back and update me in the comments below.


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About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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