6000-tonne rice scam in Dubai baffles Indian traders

6000-tonne rice scam in Dubai baffles Indian traders

(DH File Photo)

A massive 15 million dirham rice scam in Dubai has left Indian rice traders, the most affected group, scratching their heads, according to a Gulf News report. Almost 250 rice-shipping containers have vanished into thin air, literally without a trace.

Dubai’s Al Rawnaq Al Thahbhi General Trading ordered around 6,000 tonnes of rice from 20 odd exporters in India between March and April this year, with the buyers providing 23 'Telegraphic Transfer' receipts as proof of payment for electronic remittance. Instead, all of them (amounting to almost $4.18 million) were cancelled as the cheques issued bounced because of insufficient funds.

When the traders rushed to Dubai to the given address to confront the buyers, they found it emptied of everything. Not only that, even their offices were found to be abandoned, the report stated. “We visited Al Rawnaq Al Thahbhi’s office, checked its trade license, met its general manager and, more importantly, released the shipments only after we had received telex transfer (TT) receipts from a money exchange in Dubai confirming the acceptance of the remittance request and the initiation of the transaction,” Vinod Goel of Karnal’s NM Food Impex company told Gulf News.

The scam was very well-planned, with a trader even being invited to Dubai and hosted by the owner of Al Rawnaq, a man called Shaikh Tariq Awais. He apparently invited Kamla Rice and General Mills proprietor, Vipin Goel to his huge mansion and introduced him to his family. It later turned out that the mansion had been rented only a few weeks back. 

Gulf News also said that such scams were not uncommon in the UAE, wherein criminal syndicates use dummy owners to buy businesses with post-dated cheques, which later go bust. The traders are now blaming the exchange house, which sat on the cheques for a number of days, giving the scamsters enough time to escape, they alleged. However, the exchange house has denied any wrongdoing on their part, as their job was "to ensure that all records containing the relevant details of senders and source of funds are maintained properly", according to their spokesperson.

There also seems to be no legal recourse for the aggrieved traders. As one of them puts it, "Apart from lawyer’s fees we have to also fork out court fee, capped at Dh40,000. It’s like putting good money on bad money. Also, who shall I file the case against as the people behind the scam have vanished without leaving so much as a fingerprint.”