Mohammad Mansour Khan
I-Monetary Advisory Group founder-owner Mohammad Mansour Khan was taken into custody by India’s Enforcement Directorate shortly after he landed in New Delhi on Friday. Image Credit: Twitter

Dubai: The arrest of an Indian man accused of disguising a Ponzi scheme as a "halal" investment plan has come as a ray of hope for scores of UAE residents who have lost their life savings to the multi-million dollar scam.

I-Monetary Advisory (IMA) founder-owner Mohammad Mansoor Khan, who had been holed up in the UAE since June 8, was taken into custody by India’s Enforcement Directorate shortly after he landed in New Delhi on Friday morning.

Khan was produced before a judge in Delhi on the intervening nights of Friday and Saturday before being flown to Bengaluru where a Special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court sent him to the custody of Enforcement Directorate (ED) till July 23.

36%

annual returns were promised to investors by I-Monetary Advisory

“This is a great development. Now that the long arms of the law have finally caught up with Khan, I am optimistic of getting back my money,” said Abu Dhabi-based IT professional Mohammad Aamir, 41, who invested Dh410,000 in the company.

Devastated

Another Indian expat, who said he lost Dh250,000, said he was happy with the recent developments.

“I don’t know whether or not I will get back my money. The road ahead is long and fraught with challenges so I am keeping my fingers crossed. That said, I am glad that things are panning out well,” said the Sharjah resident who did not want to be named.

“I am devastated,” said Dubai-based Indian mechanical engineer F.G. who requested to be referred by his initials. “I invested Dh105,100 in IMA while my wife invested Dh294,550.

The company used to share online reports to show how our investments were faring. We never suspected that there was anything amiss,” said F.G.

Launched in 2006 as an Islamic banking and halal investment firm, IMA quickly endeared itself to Indian Muslims both within the country and outside.

Enticed by 36 per cent annual returns, many put their hard-earned money into the Bengaluru-based company that grew from strength to strength, diversifying into jewellery, real estate, bullion trading and health care.

Everybody was happy while they were getting the promised money.

When payments dried up

But when the payments dried up and Khan fled to Dubai, after threatening to commit suicide, investors hit the panic button.

Within days, the company fell apart, causing the equivalent of a financial apocalypse across thousands of homes.

Currently, an 11-member Special Investigation Team in India is probing the alleged fraud by IMA.

According to reports, it was the SIT that tracked down Khan in Dubai and persuaded him to return to India.

Before flying back, Khan released a video, promising to return to India within 24 hours and pay back the investors by selling off his properties. Some investors said he has shown “good intentions” by living up to his promise of returning to India to face the law.

However, many remained sceptical about the move. “For all you know this could be a part of an elaborate plan to regain the trust of investors,” said one of them.