Posted by VicPlough on May 18, 2013 in Top Stories
Pacific Investment Management Co., el fondo de bonos mÃ¡s grande del mundo, redujo sus tenencias de deuda soberana espaÃ±ola e italiana, en medio de un fuerte repunte en ambos mercados este mes.
La firma de gestiÃ³n de dinero ha estado vendiendo deuda europea en las Ãºltimas dos semanas como parte de reducciÃ³n generalizada en la exposiciÃ³n a activos de riesgo en los mercados de renta fija, dijo Andrew Balls, titular de gestiÃ³n de cartera europea de Pimco, en una entrevista concedida el miÃ©rcoles a The Wall Street Journal.
Balls declinÃ³ especificar el monto en dÃ³lares que Pimco ha vendido en bonos espaÃ±oles e italianos. Pimco gestiona mÃ¡s de US$2 billones en activos globales.
El ejecutivo dijo que el repunte en los precios de la deuda italiana y espaÃ±ola âque hace poco arrastrÃ³ el rendimiento de la deuda a 10 aÃ±os a su nivel mÃ¡s bajo desde 2010â, fue impulsada por la inyecciÃ³n de liquidez de los principales bancos centrales, que por el momento ha eclipsado los problemas fiscales y econÃ³micos de la eurozona.
“Este repunte, inspirado por los bancos centrales, ha encarecido los mercados”, dijo Balls. “Los rendimientos podrÃan caer aÃºn mÃ¡s en EspaÃ±a e Italia, pero hemos vendido porque todavÃa nos preocupan los fundamentos en la eurozona”.
Balls agregÃ³ que, tras su reciente venta, las posiciones de Pimco en deuda espaÃ±ola e italiana, en algunas carteras, van ahora “desde ‘neutra’ a algo por ‘debajo de ponderaciÃ³n del mercado’”, mientras que la exposiciÃ³n a otras carteras sigue siendo “desde ‘neutra’ a algo ‘sobre ponderaciÃ³n del mercado’”.
Pimco tomarÃ¡ importantes decisiones sobre su cartera general en su reuniÃ³n anual, programada para el mes entrante, indicÃ³ Balls.
AgregÃ³ que los rendimientos en EspaÃ±a e Italia deben subir en forma significativa antes que evaluar nuevas compras. Pimco tampoco tiene bonos soberanos de Grecia, Portugal e Irlanda, pese a que tambiÃ©n han registrado alzas.
El miÃ©rcoles, el bono italiano a 10 aÃ±os rendÃa 4,01%, mientras que su contraparte espaÃ±ol a igual plazo rendÃa 4,3%.
Posted by VicPlough on May 17, 2013 in Top Stories
The Republic of Karachay-Cherkessia lies in the northwest of Russia's troubled North Caucasus region. To the north and west lie the Russian territories of Stavropol and Krasnodar.
From the lowland steppes of the north, the ground rises to the southern border with Georgia which runs through the Caucasus mountain peaks.
The Karachay and Cherkess are two separate Muslim peoples. The Cherkess are ethnically and culturally related to the Kabarda and Adygey peoples and the Karachay to the Balkars. The republic is also home to Abazin and Nogay minorities. Ethnic tensions flare sporadically.
The region was absorbed by an expanding Russian Empire in the first half of the 19th century.
In the 20th, the divide-and-rule tactics of the Stalin era involved weakening resistance by splitting related groups and joining unrelated ones in shared administrative units. As part of this pattern, the Karachay-Cherkessia Autonomous Region was first created in 1922. Several further administrative adjustments and readjustments followed.
In 1943 the Karachay people were deported to Central Asia for alleged collaboration with the Nazis. They were allowed back in 1957 and the Karachay-Cherkess autonomous region recreated.
Although it has not experienced the levels of violence seen elsewhere in the North Caucasus, the republic lives in the shadow of the troubles which have plagued the region. Russian forces have mounted numerous security operations and reported foiling intended attacks by Islamist militants.
Crime, sometimes violent, and corruption further undermine stability. Inter-clan rivalries simmer and occasionally surface in angry outbursts. Poverty is widespread.
Karachay-Cherkessia gained republic status in the early 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Soviet-era Communist leader Vladimir Khubiyev was re-appointed as president by Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
He remained in the post until the republic's first direct presidential elections in 1999 when Vladimir Semenov, a Karachay and former commander of Russian ground forces, defeated the late Stanislav Derev, a Cherkess businessman. The vote was followed by furious protests and allegations of fraud.
Crisis flared again in November 2004 following the brutal killing of seven businessmen in controversial circumstances. The former son-in-law of then President Mustafa Batdyyev was later convicted or organizing the murders.
The republic is keen to develop its tourist industry and winter sports are particularly popular. The highest peak in the Caucasus, Mount Elbrus, lies on the border with Kabardino-Balkaria.
Posted by VicPlough on May 17, 2013 in Top Stories
A country of striking features and a strong indigenous culture, Guatemala's natural beauty and powerful identity stand in stark contrast to its bloody past and troubled present.
Mountainous, heavily forested and dotted with Mayan ruins, lakes, volcanoes, orchids and exotic birds, Guatemala is one of the most beautiful countries in Central America.
Its indigenous population, the Maya, make up about half of the population. Mayan languages are spoken alongside Spanish, the official tongue. Many Guatemalans are of mixed Amerindian-Hispanic origin.
Guatemala's beauty and strength of identity have not been accompanied by cohesion and prosperity.
In 1996 it emerged from a 36-year-long civil war which pitted leftist, mostly Mayan insurgents against the army, which – backed by the US – waged a vicious campaign to eliminate the guerrillas.
More than 200,000 people – most of them civilians – were killed or disappeared.
Despite an official finding that 93% of all atrocities carried out during the war had been committed by the security forces, moves to bring those responsible to account started only after a long delay.
Social inequality is a major feature of Guatemala. Poverty is particularly widespread in the countryside and among indigenous communities.
Illiteracy, infant mortality and malnutrition are among the highest in the region, life expectancy is among the lowest and, in common with many of its neighbours, the country is plagued by organised crime and violent street gangs. It is a major corridor for smuggling drugs from South America to the United States.
Despite talks and international mediation, a long-running territorial dispute with neighbouring Belize remains unresolved. Guatemala lays claim to thousands of square kilometres of land.
Posted by VicPlough on May 17, 2013 in Top Stories
Passengers departing on flight number MS921 from Bahrain International Airport (BIA) to Cairo International Airport on Tuesday morning, 7th of May, 2013, were bid farewell with flowers and chocolate in line with Egypt Air’s celebrations to mark the airline’s 81st anniversary.
Bahrain Airport Company (BAC) participated in Egypt Air’s celebrations and held a small ceremony at the airport attended by officials from both companies.
Vice President of Airport Operations at BAC Mr. Mohammed Thamir Al Kaabi commented on this occasion and confirmed, “Running a successful airline company for more than eighty years is a key milestone and a clear testament of Egypt Air significant work in meeting the needs of travelers in an efficient manner.”
“We work hand-in-hand with our partners, the airline companies, to provide exceptional travel experience and enhance Bahrain International Airport as a world-class airport. We are proud of Egypt Air’s achievements throughout the past 81 years, and we are looking forward to welcome more passengers arriving and departing via the leading Egyptian carrier,” Mr. Al Kaabi added.
Pilot Tawfiq Assi, Chairman of Egypt Air, commented on this milestone, “In marking our 81st anniversary, we decided to treat our passengers with discounts on ticket fares where they only pay 81% of ticket prices issued on the 7th of May. This also coincided with a range of activities in airports hosting Egypt Air flights world-wide.”
The anniversary celebrations also featured free tickets for participants in the company’s Facebook competition titled ‘Memories of Egypt’. Travelers were awarded with free plus bonus miles, up to 3000 mile, for their trips during the period between the 6th and 8th of May.
In addition to Egypt Air, BIA caters to 38 airlines flying to 51 destinations world-wide. Accommodating approximately 9 million passengers a year, an 8.8% increase in passenger traffic was reported during 2012 following a series of development initiatives at the airport.
BIA has won various internationally-renowned awards, most recently the SKYTRAX Award 2013 for the Middle East’s Best Airport Staff. It has also received different nominations that ranked BIA in the SKYTRAX world’s top 100 airports.
Posted by VicPlough on May 16, 2013 in Top Stories
A largely semi-desert country, Chad is rich in gold and uranium and stands to benefit from its recently-acquired status as an oil-exporting state.
Mr Malloum, too, failed to end the war, and in 1979 he was replaced by a Libyan-backed northerner, Goukouki Oueddei. But the fighting continued, this time with a former defence minister, Hissen Habre, on the opposite side.
In 1982, with French help, Mr Habre captured the capital, N'Djamena, and Mr Oueddei escaped to the north, where he formed a rival government. The standoff ended in 1990, when Mr Habre was toppled by the Libyan-backed Idriss Deby.
By the mid-1990s the situation had stabilised and in 1996 Mr Deby was confirmed president in Chad's first election.
In 1998 an armed insurgency began in the north, led by President Deby's former defence chief, Youssouf Togoimi. A Libyan-brokered peace deal in 2002 failed to put an end to the fighting.
From 2003 unrest in neighbouring Sudan's Darfur region spilled across the border, along with hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees. They have been joined by thousands of Chadians who are fleeing rebel fighting as well as violence between ethnic Arab and ethnic African Chadians.
Chad and Sudan accuse each other of backing and harbouring rebels, and the dispute led to severing of relations in 2006. However, since then, progress has been made towards normalising ties, with the two countries' presidents meeting for the first time in six years in 2010.
Chad became an oil-producing nation in 2003 with the completion of a $4bn pipeline linking its oilfields to terminals on the Atlantic coast. The government has moved to relax a law controlling the use of oil money, which the World Bank had made a condition of its $39m loan.
Posted by VicPlough on May 15, 2013 in Top Stories
Long known for its pyramids and ancient civilisation, Egypt is the largest Arab country and has played a central role in Middle Eastern politics in modern times.
Encouraged by the protests that overthrew the long-term leader of Tunisia, mounting popular anger burst to the surface in huge anti-government demonstrations in January 2011, which eventually led President Mubarak to step aside. He was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment over deaths during the demonstrations.
The road towards democracy proved rocky, however, and post-revolutionary politics have become increasingly polarised between the newly ascendant Islamists on the one hand and liberal and secular forces on the other.
After the interim military administration's promised rapid transition ended up lasting more than a year, parliamentary elections finally held in December 2011 and January 2012 produced large majorities for Islamist parties.
Similarly, a presidential poll in May and June 2012 was won Islamist Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi, prompting fears among liberal activists about the prospects for democratic gains and women's and minority rights.
After his election, Mr Morsi quickly swept aside the army's attempt to hold on to extensive political powers, but a new dispute flared at the end of 2012, when the Islamist-dominated constituent assembly signed off on a constitution which the president put to a referendum on 15 December.
The move infuriated secular, Christian and women's groups and the liberal opposition, especially when the referendum approved the constitution. They say the constitution does not provide sufficient guarantees for freedom of expression and women's rights.
Egypt's teeming cities – and almost all agricultural activity – are concentrated along the banks of the Nile, and on the river's delta. Deserts occupy most of the country.
The economy depends heavily on agriculture, tourism and cash remittances from Egyptians working abroad, mainly in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries.
However, rapid population growth and the limited amount of arable land are straining the country's resources and economy, and continuing political turmoil has paralysed government efforts to address the problems.
Posted by VicPlough on May 14, 2013 in Top Stories
Nawaz Sharif's astonishing victory at the polls is certain to be welcomed by neighbours and other countries in the region hoping for a more stable Pakistan – but much will depend on how effectively he is able to work with the Pakistani army, writes Ahmed Rashid.
However, Pakistan has little choice and Sharif even less so, as avenues to rescue the economy close one by one. Gen Kayani is also due to step down at the end of the year and a new army chief may well be able to put the years of acrimony between Mr Sharif and the army to an end.
President Asif Ali Zardari virtually surrendered foreign policy decision-making to the army in order to stay on its right side.
Mr Sharif is unlikely to do that and will instead need to co-operate with the army in order to have an effective policy towards brokering peace in Afghanistan between the Americans, President Hamid Karzai and the Taliban leaders, who are all based in Pakistan.
The peaceful withdrawal of US troops next year from Afghanistan through the Pakistani port city of Karachi, the end of the Afghan war and the survival of the regime in Kabul will all largely depend on how seriously Pakistan plays its role in forcing the Taliban to the peace table.
Mr Sharif is keen to do so – simply because he knows he will be unable to tackle Pakistan's internal crisis without peace across the border.
Mr Sharif will face a quandary with Iran as the US puts pressure on Pakistan to abide by UN-mandated sanctions on Iran imposed because of its nuclear programme. Pakistan has just signed an agreement for a critically-needed gas pipeline to be built between the two countries and Mr Sharif will want to continue that programme as Pakistan is severely lacking in gas supplies.
The five central Asian states – Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan – are already deeply concerned about the US pullout from Afghanistan and the US failure to control the Taliban – for which they also blame the Pakistan military. They will be relieved to see Mr Sharif in power and expect him to broker peace in Afghanistan.
Pakistan's traditional ally, China, which has become increasingly concerned and even privately critical of Pakistan's pandering to extremism and the Taliban, will now seek an ally in Mr Sharif and hope that he will be able to work with the army to end Pakistan's tolerance of extremism.
China is worried because militant Uighur Muslims from the Chinese province of Xinjiang are still receiving training in Pakistan.
The most difficult relationship is likely to be with the Americans. Mr Sharif, like other politicians in this election campaign, has risen on a wave of anti-Americanism.
His brother Shahbaz Sharif, former chief minister of Punjab, had stopped all projects by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Punjab province as a mark of anger against Washington's policies and its use of drones.
The army has its own multi-dimensional quarrels with Washington, especially over the use of drone missiles.
However, Mr Sharif knows that he will need US support in order to garner desperately needed aid from the IMF, the World Bank and other global institutions and he cannot do that without US support for a peace process with India and Afghanistan.
Many politicians, including Mr Sharif, have long felt that the army has had a monopoly of power over foreign policy for far too long. Even on election day, it was the military which evicted a New York Times correspondent from the country, an act which the interim government knew nothing about.
Declan Walsh was thrown out for apparently annoying the military back in February with a story about conflict between the CIA and the ISI over the use of drone missiles.
Mr Sharif is also going to need a more friendly and pragmatic foreign policy in his efforts to end Pakistan's long-running domestic insurgencies – the Pakistani Taliban in the tribal areas, the Baloch separatists in Balochistan and the multiple ethnic and sectarian killings in Karachi,
Blaming India or Afghanistan for helping create Pakistan's own domestic instability, as former regimes have done, resolves nothing.
Pakistan stands isolated and disliked in the neighbourhood and rebuilding its reputation is not going to be easy.
Posted by VicPlough on May 14, 2013 in Top Stories
Â¿Por quÃ© alguna gente se rompe la cabeza en busca de ideas nuevas y no tiene Ã©xito mientras que otros parecen producirlas casi sin esfuerzo?
Si la creatividad es un don innato o un proceso cognitivo que cualquiera puede desarrollar es una pregunta tan intrigante que los investigadores siguen estudiÃ¡ndola desde distintos Ã¡ngulos y descubriendo tÃ©cnicas nuevas y sorprendentes.
Varios estudios recientes sugieren que la mejor ruta para generar ideas implica distanciarse de la rutina diaria, ya sea tomando un descanso para soÃ±ar despierto, tomando un trago o simplemente contemplando algo verde.
Por supuesto, la personalidad puede marcar la diferencia. La gente que saca altos puntajes en pruebas de personalidad abierta tambiÃ©n puede ser mÃ¡s curiosa y distraerse con mÃ¡s facilidad, segÃºn un estudio de 2010 del Creativity Research Journal. Entre 158 estudiantes universitarios, los que tenÃan menos inhibiciones y eran mÃ¡s receptivos a mÃºltiples estÃmulos tambiÃ©n fueron los que generaron mÃ¡s ideas que otros, sostiene el estudio realizado por investigadores britÃ¡nicos.
Pero la personalidad no es el Ãºnico camino a la inspiraciÃ³n, sostienen los investigadores. Alejarse de un problema para realizar tareas simples y de rutina, y permitir que la mente vague en el proceso, puede motivar nuevas conexiones o enfoques creativos para resolver dilemas, afirma un estudio de 2012 en Psychological Science. Eso ayuda a explicar por quÃ© “muchas grandes ideas se producen en momentos de transiciÃ³n”, cuando la gente se estÃ¡ despertando o se estÃ¡ durmiendo, dando una ducha o corriendo, seÃ±ala Jennifer Wiley, una profesora de psicologÃa de la Universidad de Illinois en Chicago y autora principal de una investigaciÃ³n de 2012 publicada en Current Directions in Psychological Science.
Durante aÃ±os, Amy Baxter, una doctora e investigadora sobre el dolor, buscÃ³ formas de usar el frÃo para aliviar el dolor de los niÃ±os tras la aplicaciÃ³n de vacunas. Pero su momento de inspiraciÃ³n llegÃ³ cuando conducÃa a su casa desde el trabajo, cansada despuÃ©s de un turno de toda la noche en la sala de emergencias.
El volante de su auto vibraba porque las llantas estaban mal alineadas, y al ingresar a la rampa vehicular de su casa notÃ³ que la vibraciÃ³n habÃa adormecido sus manos. Con la ayuda de su esposo Louis, hizo la conexiÃ³n: combinar vibraciÃ³n y frÃo podrÃa ser suficiente para aliviar el dolor de una vacuna. “Luego de un turno nocturno, tu mente se expande”, dice Baxter. “Se realizan conexiones que de otro modo no se producirÃan”.
Ya en casa, aplicÃ³ un masajeador que vibraba y una bolsa de arvejas congeladas sobre el brazo de su hijo de 7 aÃ±os, Max, y luego deslizÃ³ por su piel una pequeÃ±a rueda de metal que usan los neurÃ³logos para probar la sensibilidad. Max no sintiÃ³ nada. Ese descubrimiento generÃ³ el desarrollo de “Buzzy”, una abeja vibradora con un pequeÃ±o paquete frÃo. Con la ayuda de una beca federal de financiaciÃ³n en 2008, produjo el aparato y comenzÃ³ a venderlo en lÃnea. Buzzy ahora es usado en 500 hospitales para aliviar el dolor de los pacientes tras inyecciones e infusiones, afirma Baxter, presidenta ejecutiva de MMJ Labs, en Atlanta.
La epifanÃa de Baxter a altas horas de la noche y cuando estaba cansada no fue un golpe de suerte. Estudiantes en una investigaciÃ³n de 2011 resolvieron mÃ¡s problemas que requerÃan ideas nuevas cuando los abordaron en horas de menor trabajo, en la noche para los que rinden mÃ¡s por la maÃ±ana, y por la maÃ±ana para los que se sienten mÃ¡s a gusto trabajando por la noche, segÃºn el estudio, publicado en Thinking & Reasoning.
Ese tipo de consejo se opone a la creencia general que indica que resolver problemas requiere que una persona se concentre y bloquee distracciones. “Cuando uno intenta con esfuerzo enfocarse en algo, se perderÃ¡n ideas nuevas”, seÃ±ala Wiley.
Mirar algo verde puede ayudar a que esas ideas sean mÃ¡s aparentes, segÃºn una investigaciÃ³n publicada el aÃ±o pasado en Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Cuando un grupo de estudiantes realizÃ³ pruebas de creatividad, los que tenÃan cubiertas verdes en sus pruebas contestaron con respuestas mÃ¡s creativas que los que tenÃan pÃ¡ginas blancas, negras, azules, rojas o grises. Muchos ven al verde como sÃmbolo de fertilidad, crecimiento y renovaciÃ³n, lo que activa un estado de Ã¡nimo positivo y un deseo de mejorar que alimenta la creatividad, sostiene el estudio, encabezado por investigadores de la Universidad de Munich en Alemania.
Dejar que la mente vague, a menudo considerado como soÃ±ar despierto, permite que el cerebro incube nuevos enfoques hacia problemas familiares, que sirven como “una base para la inspiraciÃ³n creativa”, afirma el estudio de 2012 en Psychological Science.
Otra tÃ¡ctica: descansar la mente, hacer una pausa de las tareas que requieren concentraciÃ³n para dar un paseo o salir a correr, mirar por la ventana o hacer una tarea fÃsica rutinaria y relajante.
John Stapleton, un ejecutivo publicitario de Atlanta, habÃa intentado por tres semanas dar con una idea para su cliente, el Instituto Costarricense de Turismo, con el fin de convencer a la gente de que visite el paÃs centroamericano. Pero sÃ³lo hasta que saliÃ³ de su oficina, viajÃ³ a Costa Rica y se relajÃ³ en un patio en el resort donde se hospedaba se le ocurriÃ³ la idea de hacer un anuncio basado en sonidos y no en palabras. “Se acercaba una tormenta y los monos empezaron a hacer ruido, el bosque cobrÃ³ vida”, dice. El resultado: una aplicaciÃ³n que permite al usuario crear su propia sinfonÃa combinando sonidos de ranas, monos, lluvia, peces y riachuelos. La meta es ofrecer una ventana a la biodiversidad del paÃs.
Beber con moderaciÃ³n tambiÃ©n puede relajar las inhibiciones de una forma que parece permitir que la mente recorra un camino mÃ¡s amplio de conexiones posibles. TambiÃ©n puede ayudar a una persona a notar pistas en el medio ambiente o cambios que un cerebro sobrio bloquearÃa, sostiene Wiley. En un estudio de 2012 en la Universidad de Illinois en Chicago, estudiantes que tomaron lo suficiente para aumentar su nivel de alcohol en la sangre a 0,075 tuvieron un mejor desempeÃ±o en pruebas de perspicacia que estudiantes sobrios. Otras investigaciones sugieren que mirar videos graciosos puede generar Ã¡nimos positivos relacionados con la creatividad.
Posted by VicPlough on May 13, 2013 in Top Stories
Oil-rich Azerbaijan gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 amid political turmoil and against a backdrop of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Caspian oil is now flowing through a pipeline running from Baku through Georgia to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, providing western countries with ready access to a vast new source of supply. Environmental groups have protested that the cost of this benefit is unacceptable.
Azerbaijan has large gas reserves too.
Azerbaijan became a member of the Council of Europe in 2001. Often accused of rampant corruption and election-rigging, ruling circles walk a tightrope between Russian and Western regional geo-strategic interests.
As the Soviet Union collapsed, the predominantly Armenian population of the Nagorno-Karabakh region stated their intention to secede from Azerbaijan. War broke out. Backed by troops and resources from Armenia proper, the Armenians of Karabakh took control of the region and surrounding territory.
In 1994 a ceasefire was signed. About one-seventh of Azerbaijan's territory remains occupied, while 800,000 refugees and internally displaced persons are scattered around the country.
Azerbaijan was in the media spotlight in June 2007 when Russian President Vladimir Putin offered the US the use of the Gabala radar station for missile defence as an alternative to using bases in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Posted by VicPlough on May 13, 2013 in Top Stories
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But when the bubble finally burst last fortnight it left behind a long trail of devastated investors — around 6,000 by the companyâs own admission.
Itâs not immediately clear what led to the closure. But this much is certain: lured by the promise of incredible returns, hundreds put all their life savings to procure outsourced âprojectsâ from Sunfeast.
When that was not enough, many borrowed from banks and illegal money lenders.
Tony from the Philippines took Dh100,000 from a loan shark while Bruce from Nigeria signed up for a Dh50,000 bank loan.
Some even sold their assets and dug into funds kept aside for their childrenâs education.
Pakistani Ajaz sold his wifeâs jewellery worth Dh100,000 and Indian Mukesh used Dh200,000 earmarked for his sonâs university expenses.
Investors, who include people of various nationalities and professions, said they learnt about Sunfeastâs home-based typing jobs through word of mouth and radio commercials.
Those visiting their Ghusais and Oud Metha offices looking for work were asked to pay a refundable Dh500 security deposit for each assignment or âprojectâ as it is known in the companyâs parlance.
âCustomersâ were handed a flash drive with several pages of manuscript in PDF format which they were required to type into text format and submit within 25 days.
Regardless of whether they submitted the âfinished projectâ in two days or 12, they were paid Dh250 only at the end of a 30-day cycle.
In theory, the customer breaks even in two months and any extra job after that is profit.
For instance, if Mr X takes 10 typing projects for Dh500 each on March 1, he makes Dh2,500 on April 1. The initial Dh5,000 deposit stays with the company against which Mr X takes 10 more assignments. The following month he earns Dh2,500 more and so the cycle goes.
At the end of their monthly cycle, hundreds queued up at Sunfeastâs fourth floor office on Oud Mehta Road to collect their âsalaryâ in cash or cheques.
As long as they were paid, nobody bothered to find out how anyone could possibly make a fortune out of typing a few sheets of paper.
In fact, many who took more jobs than they could handle further outsourced the typing jobs back home. One enterprising man even set up a temporary typing centre at his home in India where young students were hired to do the job.
âIt was raining money. In January I deposited Dh2,000 for four projects. After a month I got Dh1,000 while my deposit remained intact. So I got greedy and upgraded my package with 1,000 projects for Dh50,000 that I had saved for my wedding,â said Indian sales manager Raunik. âI never suspected a scam, but thatâs what it looks like now.â
Those who smelled something fishy were given elaborate explanations.
A Deira shopkeeper who forked out Dh250,000 said: âI asked Sunfeast bosses why they werenât outsourcing to India where they are headquartered, but they cited Indiaâs taxation rules as a ruse and that convinced me.â
Since the April 29 raid on their Dubai offices, calls and emails to the companyâs headquarters in India remain unanswered. Their staff phones here are either switched off or ring incessantly.
A ticker on their website, meanwhile, tries to calm jittery investors: Itâs reproduced here verbatim: âWe Humble request to our valuable customers, the Legal Processing is going on, all problems will be solved in four days. No need to worry about your SALARY and your Money, within One Week we will open our company Under Dubai Government permission. Kindly Cooperate.â
But the appeal has done little to allay fears of investors. Hundreds have taken on the internet to vent their frustration.
By Wednesday views on an online forum called âSunfeast Infotech fraudâ had crossed 106,000. Thereâs a separate forum for Filipino investors too.
Sunfeastâs marketing manager Radhai Gopalakrishan, however, continues to put up a brave front. âWe will open on May 15. Everything will be alright,â she told XPRESS on a rare occasion when we managed to catch her on the phone. Itâs the same line she toes online.
A post by her states: âSunfeast Infotech will function in 10 days. Investigation is going on… in one week the formalities will be finished. Whoever is willing to continue they can continue with us, otherwise they can cancel the contract and can take the money they deposited. We didnât force anyone to join. If you donât like it you can cancel the contract, but donât give false complaints, 6,000 families are surviving on Sunfeast. I request everyone not to spoil it.â
(Names of investors changed to protect idenity)