'It's all gone': UAE residents who lost their life-savings to India's Heera Group scramble to file claims before deadline

Tens of thousands of investors found their lives thrown into disarray when the group's chairperson was arrested for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme

File photo
File photo

By Mazhar Farooqui

Published: Mon 28 Nov 2022, 5:06 PM

Last updated: Mon 28 Nov 2022, 7:35 PM

Time is fast running out for Heera Group investors. India’s Supreme Court had given them until November 30 to file claims for their deposits at the country’s Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), but with just three days left before the deadline, many are still scrambling to catch up.

Tens of thousands of investors, including scores in the UAE, found their lives thrown into disarray in October 2018 when Heera Group collapsed after its chairperson Nowhera Shaik was arrested in Hyderabad for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme.

Four years on, the investors are yet to get their money back.

Following a Supreme Court directive, the SFIO published newspaper advertisements, asking investors to submit their claims with relevant documents.

“If investors don’t come, it will be presumed that the claims have been abandoned or do not exist. Incomplete claims and those not furnished as per format will not be considered. The claims received after November 30 will also not be entertained. The investor claimants whose names are figuring in the deficiency lists on [the] SFIO website are advised to submit necessary documentation. The investors who have already submitted their claims and necessary documentation for rectification of deficiencies need not submit again,” the SFIO said.

So far, the SFIO has received only 6,788 claims worth Dh159 million, way short of the Dh2,545 million deposited by some 175,000 investors, according to Indian police.


Hundreds of UAE residents also lost their life savings to the India-based company. Among them are Nasim Rajab from Abu Dhabi (Dh120,000) Muhammad Ahmed (Dh90,000) from Dubai and Shahid Khan (Dh75,000) from Sharjah.

When news of Nowhera’s arrest first broke, they rushed to the company’s office in Jumeirah Lake Towers. It was locked. Visits to Heera Group’s warehouses in Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah also drew a blank.

Indian school bus driver and long-time expat Shahid Khan, 63, who filed a claimed at SFIO early this year said he’s devastated. “I invested my life savings in Heera. It’s not easy for a school bus driver to save Dh75,000 but I did. Now it’s all gone,” Khan told Khaleej Times. “The last few years have been a real struggle. I have submitted my claim and am keeping my fingers crossed.”

In the UAE, Heera Group peddled three dodgy investment plans: Heera Gold, which guaranteed monthly pay-outs of Dh3,250 against a minimum investment of Dh100,000 (lock in period: one year), Heera Textiles which promised yearly returns of 65-70 per cent against a minimum deposit of Dh15,000 (lock in period: two years) and Heera Foodex where a Dh15,000 (lock in period: two years) deposit was supposed to yield annual profits of up to 80 per cent.

Attracted by the unusually high returns, many residents even borrowed from banks to invest in the company.

In January 2021, Nowhera Shaik was released on bail on the condition that she will return the deposit to the complainants.

Earlier, the court permitted Heera Group to sell 87 properties for settling the claim. While passing orders, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul had said: “Make selling of property as first task now.”

In the last hearing on November 10, the Supreme Court asked Heera Group to pay all claimants who have approached the SFIO.

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