In October 2013, a Dubai court delivered a guilty verdict against the Pakistani businessman Malik Noureed Awan, who was arrested after his Ponzi-like investment scheme collapsed and left behind a long trail of victims.
MMA Forex, the forex brokerage arm of MMA Group, is now back in business and seeking investments all over again under its new trading name, MMA Bank GT, the Gulf News newspaper reported.
Enticed by the promise of incredible monthly returns, hundreds of UAE investors signed up with MMA Forex. But like any other ‘double your money’ scam, the Ponzi shop bubble finally burst when the UAE authorities raided the firm’s offices.
An estimated AED 40 million ($11 million) is believed to have been paid into the accounts of MMA Forex by hundreds of investors, only for them to lose it all for good.
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The company allegedly told investors that it could more than double their investments through forex trading. On its website, it said that it requires a minimum investment of $300.
On its part, MMA Bank GT tried to play down the allegations. The general manager of the parent company, Zubair Ahmad, said: “The owner of MMA Forex is no longer alive. His son who happens to be our CEO, was arrested over regulatory issues. MMA Group has no links with MMA Forex. We are not taking any investment on behalf of MMA Forex. We are here to just facilitate the payments of those affected by it.”
Even as the parent MMA Group tries to wash its hands of the old foreign exchange fraud, it didn’t give a timeframe for returning the victims’ money or explain why MMA Forex features prominently on MMA Group’s website.
The new scam is also using the old tactics by claiming that it is a conglomerate that runs an airline, a bank and other businesses, as revealed by an undercover journalist when he visited the firm’s office. He noted: “As we were ushered into a conference room, promotional videos ran on a TV screen about the group’s ‘diversified’ portfolio that includes a heavy equipment industry and a private airline operating from Ras Al Khaimah airport.”
The state-owned newspaper raised the question of how the old scam’s operators could legally set up and run another investment fund when they were apparently never licensed to do this in the first place, are under investigation for illegal trading by the regulators and have judgements against them in the civil courts.
It added that the new company is operating from the same building in Dubai’s Al Nahda area, coincidentally the same building that housed another dubious investment company called Sunfeast Infotech. MMA’s Al Nahda office on the 11th floor of the MAI Tower has remained closed since the crackdown made by Dubai police in 2012.