Officials from the CID and Central Bank of the UAE are conducting their investigation regarding embezzlement of money from Atlantis Exchange in Dubai. Image Credit: Sajila Saseendran/Gulf News

Dubai: Two employees of a small money exchange centre have fled the country with at least Dh6.5 million which customers had paid for wiring to their families in their home countries, Dubai Police said on Monday.

A senior official with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Dubai Police told Gulf News that two Pakistani employees in the exchange office located in Naif area illegally obtained the money for their benefit and fled the country.

“The two employees embezzled Dh6.5 million from customers and fled the country two days ago,” he said on Monday.

It was not immediately clear if the money was embezzled over a period of time or stolen in a few days.

Eye witnesses said the Atlantis Exchange in Abdul Rahim Badri building was closed on Sunday afternoon.

“It was open in the morning. But they closed it in the afternoon and did not open later. Some customers crowded in front of the exchange after seeing it shut even after the lunch break hours,” said an eyewitness who did not wish to be named.

He said the customers panicked as there had been reports about the recent shutting down of six branches of the Smart Exchange after its Asian owner absconded with a few millions of dirhams.

“People were crying because they lost their money.”

Some of the victims went to Naif Police Station on Sunday night saying they wired money to their home countries but the money had not been credited yet and they found the exchange office closed.

The officer confirmed that a small crowd gathered in front of the closed doors of the exchange office. “We sent police patrols to verify what was going on. Victims told us they wired the money but it didn’t reach the receivers. So we summoned the Emirati owner of the exchange centre and discovered that two employees have fled the country with the money.”

Dubai Police registered 10 complaints until Monday evening with more people crowding at Naif Police Station to register complaints. “Victims made official complaints against the exchange house and we are investigating the matter now. We are coordinating with authorities concerned to track down the two suspects in their home country and recover the money,” the officer added.

The exchange centre was open on Monday and officials from the CID and Central Bank of the UAE were present to conduct their investigation.

The officials examining the account details refrained from giving information about the case.

A senior staff member, who was seen constantly attending calls, said he could not comment on the issue.

However, he clarified that Atlantis Exchange was not part of the Smart Exchange and it does not have any other branch.

In May, the Central Bank had ordered the closure of all the six branches of the Smart Exchange after finding irregularities. In June, the company started paying off to customers, mainly small businesses who had Wages Protection System (WPS) accounts.