x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Man 'lost Dh2m life savings to property fraudster'

Mohammed Iqbal Butt is one of six men who handed over large amounts of cash to missing businessman, believed to have fled to Pakistan.

From left: Ghulam Muhammad, 57, Ilyas Ahmed Basheer, 56, and Mohammed Iqbal Butt have all lost large sums of money.
From left: Ghulam Muhammad, 57, Ilyas Ahmed Basheer, 56, and Mohammed Iqbal Butt have all lost large sums of money.

DUBAI // An ailing Pakistani man claims he has lost every fil of his life's savings after investing in a neighbour's property scheme.

Mohammed Iqbal Butt, 59, says he invested Dh1.72 million in a company called Reyah Al Noor owned by a compatriot, Tahir Javed.

But Mr Javed has allegedly fled with his cash - along with millions of dirhams from others.

"He was my neighbour and looked like a nice man," said Mr Butt. "I trusted him and gave him all the money."

Mr Butt now says he cannot afford his daughter's school fees or life-saving medical treatment - and has even considered suicide.

Mr Javed allegedly told his investors he would use their money to purchase a number of buildings and then rent them out for a profit.

"I worked at Etisalat for 35 years and retired in 2010," said Mr Butt. "The money I invested is my gratuity and savings. There is nothing left for me now.

"He showed me about five or six buildings in Al Ain and told me he was taking on the contract to rent these out to tenants and would share the profits. But it was revealed later that it was a fraud. All the papers he showed us about the buildings were forgeries."

At least five other men claim they also gave money to Mr Javed and collectively lost Dh7.57m.

They include Arshad Ali Sultan, who put in Dh1.85m, Mohammed Navaz Ayas (Dh400,000) and Pervez Iqbal (Dh600,000).

Khalid Javed, a gold trader from Al Ain who put in Dh950,000, says there has been no trace of Mr Javed since April 24.

"All the cheques he gave us have bounced. We are not able to reach him at all - all his phones are switched off," he said.

The former Reyah Al Noor office has been abandoned. The investors believe Mr Javed has fled to Pakistan with his family.

A sixth man, a government employee who asked not to be named, invested the most in the scheme - Dh2.05m. He has flown to Pakistan to assist police there.

"We've started legal proceedings against him and hope we'll get justice in this case," he said.

Mr Butt's wife, Tasneem, has also travelled to Pakistan to pursue the case. She said she had appealed to the Punjab chief minister, Shahbaz Sharif, to immediately intervene for the recovery of their savings.

"We are facing the hardest times of our lives," she said.

The men say they approached Al Ain police but soon realised they were better off taking their evidence to the Pakistani authorities, because they were certain Mr Javed had fled there.

Officials at the Pakistani Embassy in Abu Dhabi confirmed they had received a formal letter of complaint from alleged victims.

"A group of six people approached us and lodged a complaint," the official said. "They were quite distressed and worried about their money.

"Seeing the urgency of the matter, we have forwarded it to concerned authorities in Pakistan. They are looking into it."

While all six men are distressed by the financial loss, it is a life-threatening situation for Mr Butt.

He is in the advanced stages of kidney failure and needs dialysis every second day to survive.

"I don't even have enough money for treatment," he said. "If my money is not recovered I might contemplate committing suicide.

"It is too difficult for me to live like this."

Mr Butt is equally distressed that he can no longer afford his daughter's education.

"All my dreams have been shattered. I was thinking of returning to Pakistan after retirement and leading a peaceful life," he said. "I have nowhere to go now. I am totally broke."

frahman@thenational.ae