Touria Prayag's Blog

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on September 15, 2013

“Victims paying debts for assets they will arguably never acquire are licking their wounds”

 

The A&A Marketing property scam that Weekly blew the lid off three weeks ago and which has made the headlines this week, is straight out of the “How to Crook and Get Away With It” handbook. It has all the ingredients to allow the scam to last long enough for the alleged crook to salt enough money away to be safe for generations to come: coldblooded planning, patience, intimidation, playing one against another and of course a large dose of despicable deceit. Add to this an apathetic CCID and some institutions headed by inept political nominees and you have the right mix.

 

Something about A&A Marketing resonates at a different level from the other scams being unravelled. Those who fell for it are not necessarily gullible or opportunistic people looking for an easy way for their investments to double in 90 days. Far from it. They are professionals, civil servants, private sector employees, some MPs and apparently even a minister. How did such people get conned? Here’s the story.

 

Before the swindling went full swing, A&A Marketing did indeed build some bungalows which they actually delivered to their clients on time. This was their well-crafted ploy to establish their credibility and project themselves as reliable property developers. They then started advertising frantically and launched similar projects across the island. The pricing was just right: affordable enough to attract buyers but not too cheap to allow anyone to smell a rat. So, hundreds of people bought into the scam and the slaughtering began. That was back in 2008.

 

When the bungalow delivery dates became long overdue, the promoter, Gyan Kessewnath, launched phase two: intimidation and a blame game. He received his clients individually and told them more or less the same story: some people were the cause of the delay in the work because they had not paid – enough for many buyers to start looking at each other with suspicion. Then, he allegedly found a way to bring the Voice of Hindu into the picture. That was enough to shut many of the big mouths up. To this day, victims are too scared to talk on record.

 

For the investors who were abroad, the story is absolutely ingenious: he sent them photos of finished bungalows which naturally were not theirs and got them to pay more money.

 

The few who had the courage to go to the police – as early as 2010, think how many more buyers could have been saved – met with the apathy of the CCID who simply made an entry and sent the complainants home with the assurance that they’d investigate. If they did, the guy must have told them the same cock-and-bull story he told our colleague, Abdoollah Earally in l’express.mu: that the fi nancing of the construction is met only 60% by the buyers with the balance being met 20% by the promoters themselves and 20% by investors in his Ponzi funds! –An ‘innovative’ financing scheme which was never mentioned before and which displays amazing altruistic generosity! Then came the “administrative complications, delays in obtaining permits, etc,” an explicit admission that he has been operating in complete defiance of the law with total impunity!

 

Naturally, the FSC took years to realise that Nirvi Management, which A&A buyers were unknowingly financing, was involved in “serious breaches of the law”!

 

In the meantime, Kessewnath, bloated with money he didn’t work for, is roaming the island unbothered while his victims, paying debts for assets they will arguably never acquire, are licking their wounds. Who says dishonesty doesn’t pay?

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