Abu Dhabi: Fifty-four defendants, charged with fraud and money laundering, had their hearing adjourned to September 17, when defence witnesses will testify, the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court heard on Tuesday.
The court heard testimonies from two prosecution witnesses — officers from the Abu Dhabi Criminal Investigation Department.
The men were arrested on charges of scamming up to 3,700 people of Dh1.3 billion.
Eight of the suspects were caught with the help of Interpol.
Almost 2,000 people who were caught up in a billion-dirham investment scam have come forward with financial claims of up to Dh310 million, prosecutors said.
A witness said the main defendant, who started his business in December last year, owned a car showroom and collected money from people for investment in return for a profit of 80 per cent within four to six months.
The UAE Central Bank said the defendant had no permit to collect money for investment.
Car showroom raided
The witness added that the police raided the showroom and seized copies of postdated cheques worth Dh1.6 billion, presented to investors, presumably to pay back their money and profits of 80 per cent.
Prosecutors said the scam goes in two parts — the scammers would buy second-hand vehicles with postdated cheques.
They would then sell these cars to other victims but not deliver them.
The scammers would then use the proceeds from the vehicle sales to pay back investors whose cheques became due.
This was to avoid disclosing their scam should the victims deposit the cheques for clearance.
Another witness said the main defendant bought printers worth Dh30 million and transferred Dh22 million to a company dealing in gold in Dubai.
"The defendant also purchased camels worth Dh10 milion, but failed to disclose the sources of the money,” the witness said.
Police began investigating last year after receiving more than 400 complaints in five days.
Investigations showed the scammers would sell at least one car a day, which was then repurchased by the dealerships several times.
The defendants would buy expensive cars with the victims’ money.
They also bought real estate and stocks, while one bought camels valued at Dh10m.
Police seized Dh53 million in cash from gang members’ homes and at car showrooms.
Another Dh100 million in bank accounts was frozen, police said.
The authorities seized Dh160 million and 395 vehicles — and prosecutors have arranged to sell the seized cars and use the funds towards the case.