The Crime of Fraud in the Omani Penal Code

The Omani Penal Code No. 7/2018 regulates the crime of fraud in articles from 349 to 355 and it criminalizes several acts that were not determined as criminal acts in the previous Penal Code. In addition to the typical fraud, which is established by obtaining a benefit by using fraudulent means or assuming a false name or untrue capacity, article 350 of the new law criminalizes the act of the offender who disposes of any movable property or an estate, that he knows is not owned by him, or that he previously disposed of or contracted in respect of. According to Article 25 of the Penal Code, the crime of fraud is considered a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for a period no less than (10) ten days and not exceeding (3) three years and a fine no less than (100) one hundred Rial Omani and not exceeding (1,000) one thousand Rial Omani, or one of those two punishments.

Below are the most essential forms of fraud that are being criminalized by law and the procedures for filing and investigating them by the competent authorities:

Fraud by practicing fraudulent methods or assuming a false name or untrue capacity

The Penal Code criminalizes this act under Article 349, which declares anyone who obtains from another an unlawful benefit for himself or by assuming a deceptive name or by manipulating fraudulent ways shall be facing imprisonment for a period no less than three months and not exceeding two years, and a fine no less than one hundred Omani Rials and not exceeding three hundred Omani Rials or any of those two punishments. Mere false allegations and statements are not sufficient for establishing this crime, instead, such allegations and statements must be accompanied by acts that may give the illusion of a false project, present a forged fact or create hope of obtaining fictitious profit.

In the lawsuit No 1339 year 48, the Egyptian Court of Cassation determined that the accused enhanced her lie to the victim about the existence of a commercial project that attains fictitious profits by wearing fake jewelry that gave her the appearance of a wealthy merchant, as well as displaying imported fabrics as samples of abundant merchandise that she has traded in by importing them from Lebanon, which the court has considered as fraudulent means. In contrast to the previous judgment, the Supreme Federal Court of the United Arab Emirates, in the case No 101/2015, held that the elements of the fraud were not fulfilled as the accused’s allegations that he had a direct relationship with the owner of a property in a new housing unit under construction in Dubai and that he would reserve one of the units for the victim, were no more than false information that was not accompanied by fraudulent acts that deceived the victim and led him to hand over the amount.

The crime of fraud by disposing of movable property or an estate owned by another person

The punishment adhered for unlawful disposition of movable property or estate, Article 350 requires the availability of the moral and material elements, in the sense that the accused knows that he is disposing of money to which he does not have a right to dispose of, or that he had previously disposed of, and that he does so with the intent of causing harm to others.

In the objection, No 61 Judicial Year 28, the Supreme Federal Court of the United Arab Emirates dismissed the objection and upheld the conviction judgment against the accused who sold a bus for the second time although he had previously sold it to the victim (the purchaser). The Supreme Court rejected the offender’s argument that the purchaser did not pay the bus price. Such a reason is logical as the accused should have sued the purchaser to collect the sale value instead of reselling the vehicle.

Some rare fraudulent acts in practice

Article 351 and 352 of the Penal Code stipulate the imprisonment of those who commit the following acts: exploiting persons who are minor or of defective capacity, consuming food or drink in a designated venue, occupying a room or more in a hotel or the like renting a means of transportation designated for rental, obtaining fuel for a means of transportation with knowledge of the accused that he can’t pay the cost of fare, unjustifiably refrain from paying what he owes for this or flees without fulfillment.

When and how fraud is investigated

The Penal Code does not require a complaint from the victim to investigate the crime of fraud, unlike some other crimes such as breach of trust. Exceptionally, article 355 requires a complaint from the victim if the offense is against one of the spouses, their ascendants, or descendants. Despite this, the competent authorities do not actually initiate the investigation unless they receive the victim’s complaint, except in rare cases.