The Debt Panel: 'How can I get my $38,000 investment back?'

The Sharjah reader is seeking advice on how to retrieve the money he invested in a restaurant partnership that was funded by a personal loan

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I opened a restaurant with my colleague and each of us invested Dh140,000 ($38,121) in the venture. I took out a personal loan to fund the business set-up costs.

I was the investing partner while my colleague was the working partner.

A few weeks after the restaurant opened, we had a lot of arguments because I noticed some fraud in the accounts and initial set-up expenses from his end.

Therefore, I decided to exit the business and demanded my money back.

However, he is refusing to pay back my money or even a part of it.

The trade licence was in the sponsor's name, so I could not do anything. I paid him the money in cash as I trusted him.

However, I have a mutually signed agreement that mentions the Dh140,000 paid to him. How can I get my money back? I have already started paying the instalments for the loan. KV, Sharjah

Debt Panellist 1: R Deepakchandran, group head of retail products at Emirates NBD

Venturing into a business partnership is an exciting endeavour, but one that demands careful planning and preparation.

It is crucial to ensure that all legal documents are in place to minimise risks and protect the interests of all parties involved.

When it comes to partnerships, there are professional consultancies that can guide you through the process, ensuring that the necessary documents are organised and in order.

These experts can provide valuable insights and advice on how to structure your partnership agreement to protect your investments and minimise potential conflicts.

If the business requires additional financing, it becomes even more important to exercise caution and ensure thorough documentation.

Take the time to carefully consider how the loan is structured and understand its implications on both your personal finances and the business as a whole.

In your current situation, where business obligations have fallen on your personal debt and involve fraudulent practices, the best recourse is to reach out to a legal and accounting team to provide valuable insights and help you to navigate the complexities of your situation effectively.

While navigating this challenging situation, it is crucial to be proactive and communicate with your bank.

Discuss the circumstances with your bank and explore options on how you can continue to service your loan.

By maintaining open lines of communication, you can demonstrate your commitment to resolving the situation and mitigate any negative impact on your credit history.

Debt panellist 2: Jaya Ratnani, managing partner at Freed Financial Services

Since this is a personal loan taken against your salary, you will be liable to make the monthly instalments regularly to avoid any legal consequences with the bank.

If you have a mutually signed agreement and proof of payment to your colleague, you may be able to take legal action to get your money back. Here are some steps you can take:

1. As a first step, seek advice from a lawyer. They can help you understand your rights and obligations under the law and advise you on the best course of action.

If your colleague refuses to repay you, you can consider filing for arbitration or mediation
Jaya Ratnani, managing partner, Freed Financial Services

2. You can send a formal demand letter to your colleague, outlining the terms of the agreement and your demand for repayment. Make sure you include a clear deadline and the consequences if the demand is not met.

3. If your colleague refuses to repay you, you can consider filing for arbitration or mediation. These are alternative dispute resolution mechanisms that are often more economical and faster than litigation.

4. If all else fails, you can file a civil case in a Dubai court. However, keep in mind that this can be a lengthy and expensive process.

It is important to gather all the relevant documents, including the signed agreement, proof of payment, any written correspondence and any other relevant evidence that supports your claims. Have them all organised and ready for presentation to your lawyer.

Debt panellist 3: Hannah Greenwood, chartered financial planner and senior executive officer at Finsbury Wealth

You mentioned that you and your colleague have a mutually signed agreement that includes the Dh140,000 paid to him.

This agreement will play a crucial role in determining your rights and obligations as partners.

I would recommend that you also gather all relevant documents, including financial records, receipts, bank statements, and any correspondence or communication related to the investment.

This evidence will be crucial in supporting your claims and strengthening your case.

You also mentioned that you believe there had been fraud. Breach of trust and fraud are criminal offences in the UAE.

If someone is found guilty of breach of trust or fraud in the UAE, they can face penalties such as imprisonment, fines or both, depending on the severity of the offence.

Therefore, you may be able to open a criminal case against your business partner.

In both instances, I would seek legal counsel or mediation to try to reach a settlement. If you are unable to afford legal assistance, you may also be able to have access to a lawyer on a pro bono basis.

Finally, I would also suggest going to the bank where you took out the loan to discuss if there is any flexibility for the repayment plan of the loan while you try to ensure the matter is resolved.

Your bank may be able to increase the term of the loan to reduce your monthly instalments.

I hope you get the matter resolved quickly.

The Debt Panel is a weekly column to help readers tackle their debts more effectively. If you have a question for the panel, write to

Updated: June 15, 2023, 5:00 AM