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Millionaire Keralite vegetable trader arrested in Saudi Arabia

Dubai: An Indian-origin expatriate, who is a leading trader of fresh vegetables in Saudi Arabia, involving trade running into millions of dollars, has been arrested for allegedly running a cover-up business.

The expatriate from Kerala is a leading player in the import and export of fresh vegetables in the country and a prominent figure in the Jeddah central vegetable market. The trader is likely to be deported and slapped with an entry ban into the country and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, the Arab News reported without naming him.

The arrest comes close on the heels of a Saudisation (nationalisation) drive in the country and efforts to curb undercover businesses run by expatriate workers. The business in the Jeddah central vegetable market came to a standstill after his arrest, sources said, as trucks carrying vegetables from different parts of the country and from neighbouring countries waited for traders to initiate the auction list to determine prices of the produce.

The arrest was overseen by a committee comprising the ministries of commerce, labour, municipal affairs in coordination with the police and representatives of the governor's office responsible for monitoring the mandatory nationalisation of the vegetable market.

A large number of youth were reportedly working with the man as merely a cover-up. He was the main authority dictating the business and influencing price fluctuation of fresh produce, the report said. Since the arrest, expatriate traders in violation of the law and dealing with huge volumes of business have also disappeared from the market.

The paper, quoting sources said that amid intensified inspections, vegetable prices were stable now but it was hard to say how long they would remain so. Besides the Indian trader who was apprehended, there are also a number of other Indian, Bangladeshi, Yemeni and Pakistani expats, who run a flourishing business trading in vegetables.

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