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Dubai court sentences two men to 500 years in prison for forex scam

Dubai court sentences two men to 500 years in prison for forex scam

Exential reportedly scammed around 7,000 UAE residents out of their life savings

A Dubai court has reportedly sentenced two rogue traders involved in a $200m foreign exchange scam to more than 500 years in prison each.

Local newspapers reported that Sydney Lemos and Ryan Fernandez were sentenced to one year in jail for each of the more than 500 cases against them on Sunday.

The two have the right to appeal but would still serve a life term with even a huge reduction in their sentence.

The UAE emirate’s court system had been flooded by submissions against the company the two men operated, Exential based in Dubai Media City.

The firm’s offices were shut down in 2016 and the two were arrested later that year.

Prior to the closure, Exential had been promising up to 120 per cent annual returns on investments under a ponzi scheme. Around 7,000 UAE residents were reportedly sucked in by the scam.

Barney Almazar, head of legal aid at the Philippine Embassy in the UAE, told The National that the two are unlikely to ever be released.

“It sends a very strong message. Financial crime not only destroys the lives of those who have paid out but often their extended family, too,” he was quoted as saying.

Almazar, who has stepped in to help his countrymen and women left penniless by the scam, said many of the victims are still waiting to have their money returned as liquidators attempt to recover the company’s assets across the world.

A lead investigator at a UK law firm hired to help the victims retrieve their funds said the focus was now on bad-faith investors who had lured others into the scam.

“Some have made as much as $2.5m, so this sentence sends a message that the courts will deliver harsh penalties to those found to be compliant,” Carlton Huxley’s Bill Ferguson was quoted as saying.

The firm has so far recovered about $6m after searches for assets in the UAE, India, Australia, America, Canada and the British Virgin Islands.

A Filipino cabin crew member who was awarded a Dhs1m ($272,000) payment from Exential by a Dubai court last year has yet to see any of the money because court-appointed marshals have yet to recover any assets registered to the firm in the UAE, according to The National.

“Some investors want to get their money back but are not prepared to do anything about it. Others have just given up. I had 10 accounts so it was about Dh700,000 ($191,000) that I was owed in my original deposits and the returns that were promised,” the worker was quoted as saying.

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