For years people have been moving abroad for better prospects. Up until maybe 5-10 years ago, the Gulf was the first place people thought of moving to earn more money. Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Doha, Oman, Bahrain, and even Saudi Arabia were the chosen lands. Today, however, the situation is grim. While the effects of the recession of 2009 still linger, things seem to be recovering, albeit slowly. But that doesn’t mean anyone is out of the woods yet. Companies are still laying off employees, people are still losing jobs for other reasons and fraud is a big part of the problem. People even get duped over the Internet. And fraud plays a big part in the latest story in the news about Sydney Lemos from Mapusa.
Fraud in Dubai
On Sunday, a Dubai court sentenced two Goans, Sydney Lemos, and Ryan de Souza to over 500 years each in prison for fraud. According to TOI, 37-year-old Lemos and 25-year-old de Souza, Lemos’s senior accounts specialist, are accused of duping thousands of investors in a $200 million scam. Lemos is believed to have enticed investors by offering them 120% annual returns on a minimum investment of $25,000 through his company Exential.
Who is Sydney Lemos and how did he commit fraud?
Mapusa born Sydney Lemos is known for his love of football. It has come to light that Lemos, a junior football player who went on to sponsor FC Goa club in 2015 and owned FC Bardez club in Dubai, cheated investors out of their retirement and life savings under a Ponzi scheme that was disguised as a forex scheme.
The company is believed to have paid profits at the beginning but stopped in March 2016. The scheme had failed by then and the Dubai Economic Department shut down the company’s offices in July, the same year. A case has also been registered against Lemos’s wife Valany for illegally entering the sealed office in December last year and taking out documents. Valany says that Sydney is innocent and that the whole situation is “unfair”. She also insists the case filed against her for entering the company’s sealed office illegally and taking away documents was “false”. TOI has more on that part of the story.
The news report further states Lemos was first arrested in 2016 but made bail. He was arrested again in mid-January last year. Ryan, a Siolim resident, was picked up at the Dubai airport in February 2017, as he was departing for Goa. Valany managed to get out of the country and get to Goa.
The victims of Sydney Lemos’ Ponzi scheme
However, it seems like not everyone believes he is a criminal. A lot of investors, like one Goan working in Dubai, believe that it was just a bad investment.
“I lost 400,000 dhirams (around Rs 72 lakh). My friend working in Mumbai told me about the company and I invested. I got good returns initially which I reinvested. It was a bad investment,” he told TOI from Dubai.
“Everybody makes bad investments sometimes in their lives. I haven’t filed a complaint. I like to look at the good side of people. I believe Sydney Lemos was trying to do something different but it backfired on us. If he was a crook he could have fled the country, but he stayed back for many months. I believe he was trying to do something good,” he said.
Others are not so kind. “Since 2012, I have been associated with him [Lemos] and he promised to do a lot of things. But sadly, not many promises were kept,” a close associate of his told Gulf News, on condition of anonymity.
“I invested in his scheme as well, and initially the money came in as promised. But when it stopped, I called him and he simply even refused to pick up my calls or even return them,” said another.
“What is upsetting is not that I may never see my hard-earned money, but that not once he or his wife [Valany] even bothered to mention that the company was going through a rough time. That hurts,” added another.
Media reports say that both boys can go on appeal but release from prison is an unlikely outcome. Even if their sentences were reduced, they would still have to serve a life-term at Dubai Central Prison in Al Awir.
Information credit – Times of India & Gulf News