Bahrain gold scheme refund delay
Manama, October 28, 2010
Customers who invested in a gold scheme that allegedly failed to pay them back may face a long wait for their money, it has emerged.
A meeting between Star Mark Jewellery owners and Indian Embassy first secretary Ajay Kumar to discuss a solution that was scheduled to be held on Tuesday was postponed to Sunday.
Owners Padothodi Hussain and Pauly Paul opened the store four years ago and announced a gold scheme offering people a chance to invest BD10 per month and get the money back in gold at the end of it.
For each BD20 deposit, customers were given coupons and entered into a monthly raffle for a brand new car and other prizes.
Many low-income Indian workers, including men and women, reportedly invested their savings into the scheme.
Kumar said the owners had asked for more time to solve the issue.
'We called a meeting on Tuesday, but I was told that they need more time, as they are still trying to arrange some funds,' he added.
'They also promised they would update me by next week.'
Paul said Hussain had agreed to help him after he signs a document, stating that he was no longer his partner.
'Hussain has offered me help, but on a condition that he is no more my partner,' he added.
'I agreed and now we will sign the documents in front of embassy officials.
'We have also agreed to repay the customers, not at once but slowly, as we are broke now.
'But all customers will get their money back, that's my guarantee.'
Hussain said he was not involved in the business since he started his own three months ago.
'We have a separate Commercial Registration and my shop is called New Star Mark Jewellery,' he said.
Meanwhile, an Indian resident who invested in the scheme plans to leave the country empty-handed after giving up his claim for money.
Sasidharan Devadasan invested BD280 in the scheme 18 months ago and paid BD10 every month like many other low-income workers.
The 61-year-old Tariq Pastries confectioner and salesman, has been living here for 26 years and says he is leaving to be with his wife Kanjana.
Thousands, mostly low-income Asians, reportedly invested in the scheme introduced by the shop offering them gold and valuable prizes.
More than 200 people stormed the shop in Gold City, Manama, from Friday to Sunday, demanding their money back.
The customers claimed they were promised refunds and demanded to be paid back the money they invested in the scheme.
Store officials said they had been hit by financial crisis, but were trying to cope.
'I am leaving Bahrain next Sunday and will not come back,' said Devadasan.
'I am sure I will not get my money back by that time.
'I am a poor man and need assurance that I get back every single penny for my family.
'But I am not sure if I will get my money before I leave the country.
'There are many like me who have been affected and are now regretting why they invested in this scheme,' Devadasan added.
Devadasan has a son, Sabu, who also lives and works in Bahrain, and a daughter, Saritha, who is married in India.
Another customer Khan Zaman said he was hoping to get his money soon as he was going for a vacation in December.
'My 11 colleagues and I invested in the scheme eight months ago,' said Zaman, who has been in Bahrain for three years, working as a labourer.
'The owners approached us in our labour accommodation and asked us to invest,' Zaman said.
'I lost BD160 and one of my colleagues lost BD500. We are still not sure if we will get this money or not.'
Paul earlier said his partner Hussain had filed a complaint against him at the embassy, saying he had taken two kg of gold from the store.
Hussain has been living in Bahrain for 30 years and Paul for 15 years.-TradeArabia News Service