The First Group, denies $200 billion fraud allegation

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A Dubai-based real estate firm, The First Group, has denied claims by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, that it was engaged in a phony real estate scam in which innocent Nigerians were duped to the tune of $200 billion.

In a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES on Friday, the company described the allegations as “baseless”.

“The First Group is fully transparent in its operations and has a proven track-record of delivering world-class developments in the United Arab Emirates over many years,” the company stated.

Officials of the EFCC on Wednesday sealed the offices of TFG Real Estate, the Nigerian agent of The First Group, situated on the seventh-floor of the Bank of Industry building in the Central Business District, Abuja.

The anti-graft operatives had in May 2016 raided the firm’s offices as part of investigations into the alleged property fraud.

Investigations into the scam, operatives said, revealed that the company, TFG Real Estate Limited, operates in Nigeria in the guise of being The First Group company, a Dubai-based real estate firm, which is not registered in Nigeria.

EFCC insiders said the modus operandi of the company was to lure innocent Nigerians interested in owning properties in Dubai, into parting with their hard-earned money.

“They are mandated to make the payments in installments; however, the payment is deliberately structured in such a way that the debt is difficult to offset, and as soon as one defaults, the money will be “seized” by the company,” an EFCC source had said.

 

But in its response, The First Group said TFG Real Estate Limited was its Nigerian agent which “fully abides by Nigeria’s anti-money laundering regulations.”

“In line with this commitment, TFG Real Estate, Limited, regularly files the required reports with the section of the Special Control Unit on Money Laundering (SCUML) division of the EFCC in Abuja,” the company said.

“Furthermore,The First Group’s Dubai operations, which are indirectly implicated in these baseless allegations, are governed by UAE Federal Law, and in particular, the country’s anti-money laundering laws, which rank among the world’s most robust.”

The company said its clients are also protected by the Dubai government’s “rigorous and world-class” real estate regulations, designed to protect the interests of local and international investors in the property market.

“The First Group is fully transparent in its operations and has a proven track-record of delivering world-class developments in the United Arab Emirates over many years.

“Its priority is protecting the interests of its clients and generating strong returns on their investments while complying with all legal statutes in the markets in which it operates.”

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