Investors want their voices heard

Indian expatriates who say they lost money in a property scam in their homeland are growing anxious over a delayed visit by police to interview them about their losses.

DUBAI // Indian investors who say they were duped in a property scam are concerned about a delay in the arrival of a Kerala police team to register their complaints.

At stake is their desire for justice.

In June, the Kerala chief minister Oomen Chandy promised UAE investors that police officials would soon record the complaints of more than 100 investors against the Indian developer Apple A Day properties.

Mr Chandy told homebuyers in Dubai and Abu Dhabi via video conference that the team would meet them in July.

That meeting has not taken place.

Meanwhile, police in the city of Kochi arrested Apple A Day's two owners in July. The two are accused of cheating and criminal breach of trust.

This month, Kochi police submitted a charge sheet before a magistrate in the city of Ernakulam after registering 182 cases involving several Apple A Day projects, including the New Kochi Project.

UAE investors said the case would have been stronger if their complaints had been included.

"When they submitted the charge sheet, our cases should have been included," said Krishnakumar Narayanan, a factory manager who invested up to 700,000 rupees (Dh57,738) for a plot and two cottage apartments in the New Kochi Project.

The plot was never registered in his name and the apartments never constructed.

"We are not getting any feedback from the government on the developments of the case," Mr Narayanan said, adding that waiting for the police team has increased his anxiety. "We want our money back and the people who cheated us should be punished as per the law."

Police officials in Kerala have blamed the delay on their inability to secure state and federal clearances.

"We have sent a proposal to the central government to send a team two months ago," said R Sreelekha, the Inspector General of Police in Ernakulam.

"We have also mentioned the names of the officers who are going. But it is pending with the government."

She said investigations were continuing as there were several cases, including many from across the Gulf, that have been registered against the property developer.

As well as justice, the investors hope to get some of their money back.

"What we need is to get our money back," said Simi Joseph, an investor who has filed complaints with Indian authorities. She has never been shown the site of a two-bedroom villa for which she paid 950,000 rupees two years ago.

"I know people have been arrested, but the problem arises when cases in court go on for years and years. One solution would be if the case is completed within a limited one-two year time frame. If it takes 10 years to get our money back, it's of no use. A settlement or mediation will be the best option."

She said it is difficult for expatriates to keep track of the case.

"We do keep in touch with what is happening, but it is not possible to physically be in India for the case," said Ms Joseph, who is a secretary. "If we take leave, we may lose our jobs here. I would prefer if the case is settled soon rather than prolonging it in court."

Published: August 30, 2011 04:00 AM


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