Nowhera Shaik outside Chanchalguda Jail in Hyderabad. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Heera Group victims in the UAE expressed joy after its group director Nowhera Shaikh and two other top executives Molly Thomas and Biju Thomas were taken into seven-day custody by India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday.

The arrests were made under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) Nowhera who was lodged in Hyderabad’s Chanchalguda central prison was produced before a local court which sent all three accused to ED’s custody starting May 15.

“I am glad that the long arms of the law have finally caught up with Nowhera. I hope the ED is able to extract infomration on what she did with our money,” said Sharjah resident Anwar Alam. The 38-year old Indian is among hundreds of UAE residents who have had their life savings wiped out in the various Ponzi schemes peddled by Heera Group as ‘halal’ investment.

A Dubai based sales manager, who lost Dh200,000, said investors are keeping a keen eye on the case, but are not sure if recent developments could help them recover their money.

Authorities in India earlier said they have identified 200 bank accounts belonging to Nowhera and her companies, besides six properties in India worth Rs400 million (Dh21 million). These properties are likely to be attached and auctioned so that their proceeds could be distributed among investors.

Lured by up to 35 per cent annual returns, nearly 1,75,000 people invested in Heera Group in India. UAE-based investors deposited money through Heera Group’s Dubai office at Fortune Executive Tower in Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT). Heera Group collapsed following the arrest of its CEO by Indian police in October 2018.

“The accused were fraudulently running a money circulation scheme. Multiple FIRs [first information reports] have been registered by the aggrieved depositors across the country against Nowhera Shaikh and others,” said ED in a statement.

According to them, Heera Group had 182 bank accounts across India under the name of various entities besides 10 bank accounts in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.