Indian Traders Sentenced to Over 500 Years in Prison in Dubai

Sydney Lemos’ company fleeced $200 million from 7,000 residents of United Arab Emirates.


An Indian trader and his senior accounts specialist, both hailing from Goa, were sentenced to 517 years each in prison by a Dubai court on April 8 for fleecing $200 million from 7,000 residents of the United Arab Emirates.

Sydney Lemos, 37, and Ryan de Souza, 25, can now make an appeal, but neither of them may be released as even reducing their sentence hugely would still amount to spending a life term at Dubai Central Prison in Al Awir, the National reported.

Dr Mohammad Hanafi, the presiding judge of the special bench, also sentenced Lemos’ wife Valany to 517 years in absentia, Gulf News reported. The accused were convicted in the 515 cases filed against them. They were sentenced to one year in jail each in 513 cases and two years in jail for the other two cases, the report added.

The Indians were accused of cheating several investors in a Ponzi scheme that offered investors annual returns of 120 per cent. This would be given on a minimum initial investment of $25,000 through Lemos’ company, Exential, according to the Economic Times. Exential was a foreign exchange trading firm based in Dubai.

Although the company paid profits in the beginning, investors were not paid after the scheme collapsed in March 2016. The company’s offices were shut down by the Dubai Economic Department in July 2016. Lemos was arrested in December 2016 and was let out on bail. He was arrested again in January 2017.

In 2015, Lemos’s company FC Prime Markets became the main sponsors of FC Goa — the Goan franchise in the Indian Super League. He was often spotted at the Indian football league matches and has been seen interacting with Bollywood celebrities such as Abhishek Bachchan and Ranbir Kapoor, the ET report said. Lemos was reported to have an extravagant lifestyle, and bought luxury cars and motorbikes as well as apartments.

A case has also been registered against Lemos’s wife, Valany Cardozo, for illegally entering his offices that had been sealed off in 2017 and taking out documents from there.

De Souza, Lemos’ senior accounts specialist, was arrested at Dubai airport in February 2017 when he was flying off to India. Cardozo managed to flee to Goa. “Sydney definitely wants to help the clients and he is the only one who can. This is not the final verdict,” Cardozo said, according to the Times of India. Calling the verdict “unfair,” she said, “The only reason he got convicted is because of the number of complaints — 513 cases filed against him. These are false accusations made out of jealousy. I have not given up hope. This is not the final verdict.”

“We’re completely shocked and down,” said Martires de Souza, the father of Lemos’ senior accounts specialist, adding that the judgement is unfair, the TOI report said.

Barney Almazar, who is the head of legal aid at the Philippine embassy in the UAE, helped some of the investors who lost their money. “This sentence far exceeds the lifetime of a person so it means that even if they do very well in the correctional institution, they are unlikely to ever be released,” Almazar said. Many of the investors who have now been rendered penniless due to the ponzi scheme cannot afford legal fees and have to live with the reality that they will not be able recover their money.

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