The owners of the Bin Sharif Group, a multi-brand retail company, allegedly issued cheques worth millions of dirhams and disappeared before they eventually bounced.
Suppliers gathered at the Bin Sharif Group head office on Sunday and yesterday after they were unable to cash cheques issued by the company.
Atul Dhawan, CEO of Sakshi Advertising, claims the company owes them Dh1.4 million in advertising fees. "When my cheque bounced on Thursday, I called the general manager. He said ‘don't worry' [and that] he would replace them on Sunday," Dhawan said.
"When I [failed to hear] from him on Sunday I went to the office and found a group of suppliers who also had the same problem."
Gulf News tried to contact both the head office of the Bin Sharif Group and Mahya Abu Najm, the general manager of the company. There was no response to repeated calls and text messages sent to the company's offices and officials.
Issuing cheques which cannot be honoured is a criminal offence in the country.
The Bin Sharif Group was established in 2004.
Its brands include Shobra Shoes; Ardent, an accessories outlet; Wadi, a multi-brand clothes company, and BabyDoss, a baby's and children's clothes shop. The group operates over 10 stores across the UAE.
According to its website, the Bin Sharif Group has achieved a consistent annual growth rate of 30 per cent. According to Dhawan, there are about 20 suppliers whose cheques have bounced and have an estimated total of Dh150 million to Dh200 million.
"We all first met at their head office yesterday and today we decided to go to the police station as there are now a number of cases against them," he said.
Still in the country
"As per the police records, Mahya Abu Najm, the managing director of the Bin Sharif Group, and the person who signed the cheques, is still in the country. The other two brothers and owners have left."
Naval Kishor, owner of Sunshine Trading, which has been supplying garments to the group for five years, is one of the suppliers looking to take legal action.
According to him, they are owed more than Dh1 million. "Many suppliers who supply the material to the Bin Sharif group have received bounced cheques," he said.
"There are around 15 suppliers who are owed between Dh50,000 and Dh5 million in bounced cheques.
"The company executives told me internally that every head of department left last night. I want to know what is happening," he added.
Some of the company's employees who work across the group's retail outlets have also complained of not being paid for three months.
According to Dhawan, around 40 employees have registered their complaints with the labour ministries in the emirates in which they are employed.