Sydney Lemos and Ryan Fernandez were detained after an investor claimed they did not receive returns owed to them by Exential, which had promised to “double” an investment of $25,000 through trading.
The Department of Economic Development (DED) closed the company’s office in Dubai Media City in the same year, and ordered it to stop trading.
While Lemos and Fernandez can appeal, they are unlikely to be released, and sentence reduction will still result in lifetime detention at Dubai Central Prison in Al Awir.
Their assets in Dubai were the first to be seized, and global asset freezes are expected to continue in the UAE, India, Australia, Canada, British Virgin Islands and the US, while about 25 bank accounts have been emptied and frozen.
“It sends a very strong message. Financial crime not only destroys the lives of those who have paid out, but often their extended family too,” said Barney Almazar, head of legal aid at the Philippine Embassy in the UAE told the newspaper.
UK fraud investigation specialists Carlton Huxley are working with Dubai firm Abdul Rahman Naseeb Advocates to recover funds from FCI Markets, an offshore brokerage linked to Exential, in the British Virgin Islands. So far, Carlton Huxley has managed to recover around $6m.
Consultants at the firm are working with lawyers experienced in the $64.8bn Bernard Madoff scam, which saw almost 5,000 clients lose their money.
Those who were scammed by Lemos and Fernandez include a Filipino cabin crew who had spent $190,600 in life savings. He was awarded a $270,000 judgement by Dubai Courts, but is yet to receive any money as authorities said they have not yet recovered any assets registered in the name of Exential in the UAE.