'Where is the money?': Investors question Nowhera Shaikh over ponzi scheme

Nowhera Shaikh has been asked by the Supreme Court to repay the victims of the ponzi scheme, but the investors say that they are wary of her assurances.
Nowhera Shaikh
Nowhera Shaikh
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For several lakh investors allegedly duped by Nowhera Shaikh, the Managing Director of Heera group, getting back their invested money is proving to be a tough task. The Supreme Court, while granting Nowhera bail in January, had laid down a condition that she should repay back her investors within six weeks. In attempts to comply with the Supreme Court’s bail conditions, the Heera group had issued cheques amounting to Rs 8 to 9 crore in Telangana. But these cheques were issued in the name of those investors who had filed a complaint with the police. The names of others, who were mentioned in the FIR, were ignored.

The duped investors now accuse Nowhera Shaikh of trying to fool even the Supreme Court of India and claim that she has no real intention of paying them back. Several investors allegedly duped by the ponzi scheme of Heera group gathered on Friday at the Nampally court and found that the company planned to submit nine cheques on February 17. These cheques are to be addressed to those who filed police complaints. No cheques are being issued in the name of several investors who were mentioned in the nine FIRs that were filed by the police, say investors.

The cheques were brought to the court on Friday, but not submitted owing to resistance from the investors. There are a total of 374 investors from Telangana who are named in the Enforcement Directorate case against the Heera Group.

“What is the intention behind submitting these cheques when their bank accounts are frozen?” asked Shabaz Khan, the anti-corruption activist who runs a support group for those duped by the Heera group, “They are trying to mislead the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has set a deadline for Nowhera which ends on March 15. If they were serious about giving the money back, they would have approached the Hyderabad Central Crime Station (CCS) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) by now, seeking to unfreeze their bank accounts and release data on their investors which the officials had seized. But they haven’t made such a move yet. They are issuing these cheques, which will bounce. They will then tell the court they need an extension. It’s a trick,” he alleged.

Responding to the allegations through a social media address, Nowhera Shaikh said that the claims of those who have been named in the FIRs have to be first verified by the courts. In a 30-minute long monologue, the accused assured all her investors that their money will be returned once the bank accounts are unfrozen. She also claimed that she will repay her investors as per the bail conditions laid down by the Supreme Court.

Nowhera Shaikh, the managing director of Heera group of companies, was arrested by the ED in 2019 along with others, over a case booked against her under various sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). That same year, she was also arrested by the Telangana and Maharashtra police in similar cases.

The ED has accused her of hatching a "well-planned conspiracy and luring innocent people to deposit their savings with her for-profit sharing rather than interest." Authorities said that Nowhera Shaikh collected deposits to the tune of Rs 5,600 crore from around 1.72 lakh investors and made false promises of paying a high rate of returns like that of 3% per month or 36% to 40% per year.

"For this fraud, she had opened around 250 accounts in various banks across the country and eight accounts were opened in UAE and Saudi Arabia. They diverted the depositors' amounts to their personal accounts for and amassed huge movable and immovable assets," the ED had said earlier.

With PTI inputs

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