Political party

Who sponsors Aalima Nothera Sheikh’s political party?

Image: Afternoon Voice/Vivek Gaikwad

Aalima Nohera Shaikh is a lesser known businesswoman and politician. She is Executive Chairman and Founder of Heera Group and Founder and Chairman of All-India Mahila Empowerment Party. This political party is trying its luck in Maharashtra. Nothera Shaikh was arrested by the ED in 2019, along with others, for a case brought against her under various sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). That same year, police in Telangana and Maharashtra also arrested her in similar cases.

The ED suspects her of fomenting a “well-planned conspiracy and luring innocent people into depositing their savings with her for profit rather than interest”. Authorities said that Nohera Shaikh collected deposits worth Rs 5,600 crore from about 1.72 lakh investors and made false promises to pay high rate of return like that of 3% per month or from 36% to 40% per year. For this fraud, she had opened about 250 accounts in various banks across the country and they opened eight accounts in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. They diverted depositors’ sums to their personal accounts and amassed enormous movable and immovable assets.

She started as a street vendor, selling vegetables alongside her mother in Tirupati when she was a teenager. Later, she got in touch with a businessman from Dubai and planned to introduce investors in India. She formed 17 companies which would boast of more than 2 lakh more investors in the southern and western states and have a combined turnover of over Rs 1,000 crore.

The reversal of fortune seems more dramatic when you consider all the stops in between: over the years, she managed to earn a degree in business management, started a girls’ madrassa and even formed a party to challenge the polls in Karnataka. But Nothera Shaikh’s downfall is the result of the same expansion that brought her success. As the 45-year-old burqa-clad single mother extended her seven-year reach using a Ponzi scheme – offering returns of 36-42% – her offices and agents in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh increasingly attracted more investors; there was a whiff of a hawala scandal somewhere.

By May 2018, Shaikh had started failing to pay, which eventually led to mismanagement of funds, chaos and complaints against the police. It was a cheating affair of Rs 500 crore. Shaikh was being held by Mumbai police after apprehending her in Hyderabad. The Economic Crimes Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police arrested her on October 25 on a complaint from an investor named Shane Elahi who was facing misconduct. Over the past few days, national intelligence agencies have stepped in to discuss the case. Most of its investors are from the Muslim community, to whom it has promised an interest-free halal business.

From their paid campaigns to organized press conferences, Shaik received a UAE Minister’s Award for Icon of Business Leadership in 2018. When she realized that controversy could spoil her destiny in politics, she announced that customers who wanted their money back had to be prepared to bear the losses too since they had agreed to share both the profits and the losses. Citing the reason for the loss, she said her entire business has come to a standstill due to a number of lawsuits filed against her.

Giving the statistics of the amount returned to clients, she claimed that so far, Rs. 3.50 crores has been paid to those who filed lawsuits against her company. She said the amount was paid to customers who approached the company with genuine documents. Meanwhile, her political ambitions have been shattered by the lawsuits against her and she wants to get into politics. Gradually, the Supreme Court allowed his company to sell 87 properties to settle investor claims.

When passing the orders, Judge Sanjay Kishan Kaul said, “Make the sale of goods the first task now.” For several lakh investors allegedly duped by Nohera Shaikh, recovering their invested money was a difficult task. The Supreme Court, while granting Nowherea bail in January, had set a condition that it repay its investors within six weeks. In an attempt to comply with the Supreme Court’s bail conditions, the Heera Group had issued checks in the amount of Rs 8 to 9 crore in Telangana. But they issued those checks in the name of investors who had complained to the police. The names of the others, who were mentioned in the FIR, were ignored. We know that corruption and politics are nothing new, but here is one more addition.