Sydney Lemos, a prominent Goan who mingled with top names in world football, has had a change of fortunes.
He has been sentenced to 500 years in prison by a Dubai court for duping hundreds of investors of $200mn (Rs. 1,300cr).
But his wife, who left Dubai last year, vehemently denies the allegations and says they will seek help from Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj.
Lemos (37), previously a footballer himself, was running FC Bardez, a popular team in Dubai.
He hobnobbed with top names in the business, including Zico and Ronaldinho.
Brazilian superstar Neymar even sent his wife Valany Cardozo a personal video message on her birthday.
But his major claim to fame came when he became the main sponsor of FC Goa in the ISL in 2015.
The move came after Videocon D2H stopped financing FC Goa. Lemos stepped in with a five-year deal at Rs. 3.25cr in the first year.
Though it was unexpected, it brought Lemos attention as he mixed with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Abhishek Bachchan and Ranbir Kapoor.
His firm Exential, which offered investors 120% annual returns upon minimum investment of $25,000, gained legitimacy through association.
Initially, it paid off, investors say. But by March'16, the scheme had collapsed.
The Dubai Economic Department sealed its offices in July'16.
Lemos was arrested in December'16, released on bail, then re-arrested in January'17. The same month, Valany returned to India.
Lemos' accounts specialist Ryan de Souza (25), another Goan, was nabbed from the Dubai Airport in February'17 as he was leaving for India.
Valany, who's accused of removing critical documents from their sealed office in December'17, calls the accusations against Lemos false.
"Sydney definitely wants to help the clients," she said, adding they faced a "genuine problem" when one of their bank accounts was closed in 2015.
The only reason he was convicted was because there were 513 complaints, she said, and this isn't the final verdict.
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