Dubai: Two Indian men and a woman have been sentenced to 517 years each in jail by a Dubai court for swindling thousands of people in a multi-million-dollar fraud case, the UAE media reported. Sydney Lemos, from Mapusa in north Goa, was the chief executive of Exential, a forex trading company in Dubai Media City. Investors lost over USD 200 million when Exential failed to pay out after promising 120 per cent returns on a USD 25,000 (Dirham 91,800) investment.
The accused – Lemos, his wife Valany and Ryan D’Souza – were convicted on Sunday by the Dubai Misdemeanours Court in the 515 cases filed against them and were sentenced to one year in jail each in 513 cases and two years in jail for the remaining two cases, Gulf News reported. Dr Mohammad Hanafi, the presiding judge of the special bench, sentenced Valany in absentia. She remains at large. Lemos, said to be in his late 30s, was arrested in January last year while de Souza was arrested while he was trying to leave the UAE.
The Exential Group took money from investors promising huge returns by investing the money in the foreign exchange market. In the beginning, investors were paid, but gradually the payments stopped, the report said. Investigations have revealed that Exential owner Lemos, a flamboyant man, who also sponsors a football club in Goa, transferred the money to Australia-based brokerage firm FC Prime owned by his wife Valany.
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Prosecutors had accused the defendants of swindling and deception and referred the case to the special panel on October 31. The first hearing took place on December 25 last year and the trial concluded with the sentencing on Sunday. Sunday’s court ruling remains subject to appeal, the report said.
Exential’s office was shut down by the Department of Economic Development of Dubai in July 2016. Earlier reports said around 7,000 UAE residents lost their life’s savings in the massive scam. A UAE lawyer representing a group of victims said the ruling may help recover some of his clients’ money.
Atty Barney Almazar, director of Gulf Law, is working with the Philippine Embassy to assist victims. He is the advocate of a number of Filipinos who invested in Exential. “The court decision of more than 500 years’ imprisonment sends a very strong message to the public that Dubai is not taking financial crimes lightly,” Almazar told Gulf News.
“This judgement can be used to support the victims’ civil claims and efforts in locating the assets of the company. The decision will be acceptable in foreign jurisdictions. In any criminal act, the fruits of the crime will be forfeited. Of course, there is a process and this is not a guarantee,” Almazar said.