Dubai: A foodstuff company behind a scam exposed by Gulf News last year now finds itself in the dock. The Ajman-based Soha Arif Foodstuff Trading has been ordered by a Dubai court to pay over Dh470,000 to export company Madhav Impex heaquartered in India.
Shouq Al Kathiri, lawyer for Madhav Impex, said they have started execution procedures against Soha Arif Foodstuff after its owner failed to respond to the court summons and notices published in local newspapers asking them comply with the court order within 15 days. Madhav Impex, located in the western Indian state of Gujarat, supplied Soha Arif 12 containers of onions worth $100,000 (Dh367,300) in August last year.
They were promised payment within 24 hours of delivery but never got paid. Nearly 50 exporters were similarly tricked into shipping tonnes of food material worth millions of dirhams to Soha Arif, owned by Pakistani Mian Zaryab, and H&MZ Global Worldwide belonging to his elder brother, Chaudhary Arif Hayyab Kamboh, who famously faked his death around three years ago. In fact, H&MZ Global Worldwide was launched by Hayyab almost 14 months after he was reportedly ‘killed’ in the purported road accident in Sharjah on July 19, 2017. His untimely ‘demise’ was mourned by many.
MQM Television, which claims to represent Pakistan political party Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), even extended condolences to the family of the deceased in a Facebook post two days later, praying that their “ideological worker” be granted the highest place in heaven. The post was accompanied by a picture of Hayyab Arif lying dead with cotton balls plugged in his nostrils and a white burial shroud wrapped around his body.
Mian Zaryab also took to Facebook in August 2017 to talk about the pain of losing his brother. Both posts elicited an outpouring of grief with scores paying glowing tributes to the departed soul.
As it turned out, Hayyab was not dead. A Gulf News report published on October 23, 2019 showed he was alive and, together with Zaryab, making a killing by scamming exporters.
Best Zest Agro, which supplied coconuts, pegged its losses at $97,412 while Apibee Natural Product Pvt. Ltd based in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, reported losing 30kg of natural honey valued at $44,000 to the duo.
Other victims included Shri Siddhivinayak (rice: $93,000); EMC International Export (onions: $14,700); JK Export (coconut: $39,000); Dakshah Overseas (bananas: $18,071) Mahakal (onions: $20,034); Bintang Persaka (wood charcoal: $31,041) K. International (red chillies: $35,700); CV Tri Mitra Persaka (coconut: $12,375) and Bhavya Enterprises (rice: $17,750). Tarun Kapoor of Benmoon Pharma Research Private Limited in Gujarat said they shipped 21 tonnes of cumin seeds worth $60,900 to Hayyab’s second company Saya International.
Exporters said they gave up after efforts to lodge a police complaint drew a blank. “The authorities directed us to court. I didn’t find it feasible to get into a protracted court battle from abroad,” recalled Mumbai-based Vijay Ruparen. “We supplied dried red chillies worth Dh130,000. If losing our goods was not bad enough we were now staring at high legal costs,” said Ruparen who flew into the UAE after the scam in the hope of recovering his losses.
However, Madhav Impex took the legal route and won a favourable verdict in December 2019. Lawyer Shouq Al Kathiri said the court has ordered Soha Arif to pay $105,000 besides interest calculated at nine per cent August 2019. “We filed for the execution of the order on June 22 this year. Since then the court has summoned Soha Arif’s owner and also published two notices in local newspapers in this regard in recent months but he remains untraceable,” she said.
Neither Zaryab nor Hayyab could be reached for comments.
Duo deny any wrongdoing
At the time of the expose, both had denied any wrongdoing. Zaryab said there was a “conspiracy against him’. He also brushed aside questions about his Facebook post mourning his brother’s death. ”It’s my personal matter,” he told Gulf News.
In his defence, Hayyab said he was ‘very much alive’ but maintained that he had no clue why MQM posted an obituary about him. He said the picture of him lying dead was from his theatre days in Pakistan where he played a dead man in a stage show. He declined to reveal when it was staged. “It’s my personal matter,” he told Gulf News last year.
He said he was unable to take calls of his creditors because he had lost his cell phone and could not get a replacement SIM card as there’s an outstanding bill against it. “I have no intention of cheating anyone,” he had said earlier.