Multi-million scandal rocks business firms

DUBAI — A multi-million-dirham scandal involving a Dubai-based company has left many business houses in the city reeling under shock.

By Prerna Suri

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Published: Fri 6 May 2005, 12:01 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 8:24 PM

The owner of Haifa Star General Trading (LLC), an Indian national, is allegedly absconding with Dh10 million worth of goods, which he procured after gaining the trust of his victims over a period of six months.

The victims, many of whom incurred losses worth hundreds of thousands of dirhams, say they were issued post-dated cheques, which bounced when they tried to encash them.

Harish Sawlani, the owner of the company, disappeared on April 18 along with his employees, and there has been no information about their whereabouts since then.

At least 25 companies have been affected by this company, but the list of victims seems to be increasing with each passing day.

"I was issued a cheque for Dh100,000 which I was supposed to encash the very next day. But when I went to the bank, I was horrified to learn that there was no balance in the account," Yousef Hajar, a sales executive, said. Some of the merchandise like laptops, mobile phones, building material, carpets and cement have already been shipped to ports in Karachi, Pakistan, but the affected companies have managed to secure a court injunction against the transportation of any further material by the company.

Khaleej Times managed to procure the court order dated April 27 (Case No. 9938-2005).

"We have managed to secure a court order preventing the individuals from shipping any more containers to Pakistan. We are trying to tap all avenues to get him arrested and are even securing the help of the CID in this case," said the sponsor of the company.

Within six months of setting up their office in Al Moosa Towers in Dubai, the company targeted all kinds of businesses ranging from small scale to medium scale throughout the emirates. To make their set-up look legitimate, the company employed several people in their plush offices. The trade licence is yet to be cancelled, but the offices have been closed.

Said M.A., another victim: "We have been cheated. I lost around Dh250,000 worth of laptops and have been trying to catch these people, but have not met with any luck so far. The police also seem to be taking their own time, and by the time we complete all the formalities, these scamsters would have gone scot-free."

M.K., another businessman who had dealings with the company, said: "These fraudsters made their set-up look very authentic and fooled all of us. This should be an eye-opener for others to be wary of the people they deal with here. The authorities should help us locate these men as soon as possible as they have duped many of us," he said.

A source at the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) said they were aware of the case and were investigating it.

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