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The Indian owner of the exchange house allegedly absconded with the company money
Branches of the beleaguered Smart Exchange in the UAE remain closed on Thursday except the company's head office in Bur Dubai, opposite BurJuman mall, where customers can reportedly collect their refunds beginning Sunday, June 11.
Khaleej Times reported on May 30 that all of Smart Exchange's six branches in the country - three in Dubai, two Abu Dhabi, and one in Sharjah - abruptly ceased operations since May 24 after A.S., the Indian owner of the exchange house, allegedly absconded with the company money.
Customers interviewed by Khaleej Times said they were left devastated as their hard-earned money seemed lost after sending remittances to their home countries through the exchange center.
On Thursday, a handful of customers went to the BurJuman branch - after it opened at 3pm - and they said they were promised to get full refund beginning June 11.
Two Indian expats who sent money through Smart Exchange said they were asked to return on Sunday to collect their money while a Filipina expat said one of her friends was able to get back the Dh500 she sent home.
A staff at the Smart Exchange confirmed to Khaleej Times that all their branches are still closed but the main office will be open daily from 3pm-6pm to give refund to customers.
Customers should bring their Emirates ID or passport and furnish the branch with the transaction number to get the refund. They are also advised to call 04 3574500 for further inquiries.
Meanwhile, another staff (who requested not to be named) said A.S. is still in the country and that he is "monitoring everything on CCTV."
"A liaison officer (sent by the owner) is coming everyday to check the branch activities," the staff added.
Most of the staff, however, are wary for the future of their jobs and some have already started looking for other employment. Fortunately their salaries were received in full last month, they said.
In Abu Dhabi, most of the victims who spoke to Khaleej Times said they have registered a case with the Abu Dhabi courts while the Emirati sponsor of the company, who requested not to be named, said he has filed a police complaint against the owner.
The sponsor said: "I have his (A.S.) passport, and I have already put a travel ban on him so that he cannot leave the country. The matter has been reported to the central bank, and the issue will be resolved soon and the customers will receive their money."