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Wed 27 Jan 2010 12:48 PM

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Oman investors hit by $220m fraud

Public prosecutor says more than 3,000 people affected by securities swindle; five suspects in custody.

Oman investors hit by $220m fraud

Thousands of investors have been swindled out of a total of 88 million rials ($220 million), Oman's prosecutor's office said on Wednesday, in what one analyst said could be the Gulf Arab countries biggest securities portfolio fraud.

"So far, as many as 3,254 people fell prey to the swindlers and the total amount swindled by the cheats so far stands at 88.4 million rials," the public prosecutor's office said in a statement.

The statement said five of seven people suspected of involvement in the securities portfolio fraud were in custody while two were still at large. It did not name the suspects.

The fraud has shocked the country's business community, known for its conservative approach to risk and investment.

"This is probably the biggest fraud to date in Oman," Anil Kumar, analyst at brokerage company Fincorp, told Reuters.

Lured by a boom from oil income poured into the country, Oman, like other Gulf states, attracts thousands of expatriates. Many of them make substantial savings with the potential to become a prime target for fraudsters. (Reuters)

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