Dubai: The arrest of an entrepreneur-cum-politician in India has sparked panic among UAE investors who had put their life’s savings with her company’s Dubai office.
Dr Aalima Nowhera Shaikh, chairman of Heera Gold, was taken into custody in Hyderabad on Tuesday afternoon after investors took to the street in the city demanding that they get their money back.
An Indian who lives in Abu Dhabi said he is worried about the Dh500,000 he invested with Heera Gold’s Jumeirah Lake Towers office.
Another investor who works in Dubai said he fears he had become an unwitting victim of an elaborate Ponzi scheme. “I lost Dh200,000. It was all I had. I am ruined,” he told Gulf News.
Some investors said they are weighing legal action against the company. “We have no other choice,” said a Dubai-based businessman.
Investors said the company promised them up to 35 per cent annual returns. “They told us they will invest our money in gold and textile and give us monthly profits. I joined them sometime back by investing Dh100,000. Initially they paid me around Dh3,000 monthly but soon the payments dried out,” he said.
Dr Nowhera Shaikh, 45, is also the founder of All India Mahila Empowerment Party, an Indian political party she launched in November 2017.
Earlier on Tuesday, Hyderabad police held a press conference announcing Dr Nowhera Shaikh’s arrest.
Attracted by unusually high returns thousands across India had invested in the various schemes run by the Heera Group over the last few years, said Hyderabad police Commissioner Anjani Kumar.
Last month, hundreds of Heera Gold investors held public protests in Hyderabad. Earlier, market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) said the activities of Heera Gold were in the nature of Ponzi or multi-level marketing (MLM) schemes.
It’s not immediately known how many of Heera Gold investors are from the UAE.
Calls made Heera Gold’s office in JLT remain unanswered.