Fraud un­der lens in Sin­ga­pore too

DNA (Daily News & Analysis) Mumbai Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Somen­dra Sharma

The al­leged fraud in­volv­ing Speak Asia, a pur­ported mar­ket re­search firm, is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated not only by the Mum­bai po­lice’s eco­nomic of­fences wing (EOW), but also by the gov­ern­ment of Sin­ga­pore, the coun­try where the firm is head­quar­tered.

Po­lice sources here claim that the fraud in­ves­ti­ga­tion depart­ment of Sin­ga­pore gov­ern­ment is also mak­ing in­quiries into the case af­ter it came to light that the com­pany could have cheated as many as 12 lakh in­vestors across In­dia to the tune of over Rs1,320 crore.

Harinder Kaur, a Sin­ga­pore na­tional who is the chair­per­son of Speak Asia, is also shown as wanted in the case. “Se­ri­ous fraud in­ves­ti­ga­tion depart­ment of com­mer­cial af­fairs of gov­ern­ment of Sin­ga­pore is now mak­ing in­quiries into the mat­ter,” said an EOW of­fi­cer re­quest­ing anonymity.

“As per in­for­ma­tion gath­ered from the in­come tax depart­ment and en­force­ment direc­torate, Rs600 crore has been si­phoned out of the coun­try by Speak Asia. Funds in var­i­ous banks in In­dia have been trans­ferred to those in Sin­ga­pore. We are get­ting more de­tails in this re­gard,” the source said.

The source added that the com­pany has over 137 fran­chises, of which 18 are in Ma­ha­rash­tra, in­clud­ing four in Mum­bai, which col­lect money for the com­pany and pass it on to three other pri­vate com­pa­nies, who then trans­fer the funds abroad. “We have de­tails of these pri­vate com­pa­nies and are in the process of tak­ing ac­tion against them,” said the of­fi­cer.

A po­lice of­fi­cer said that the com­pany has not been pay­ing in­vestors since the last three months af­ter al­leg­ing that the Sin­ga­pore gov­ern­ment has frozen their ac­counts in United Over­seas Bank of Sin­ga­pore. “Twelve lakh peo­ple from across In­dia have in­vested in a com­pany that does not even have an of­fice in the coun­try. More such com­pa­nies which are into sim­i­lar busi­ness prac­tices are on our tar­get list. The po­lice are also in the process of block­ing the com­pany’s web­site,” the of­fi­cer said.

Ac­cord­ing to joint com­mis­sioner of po­lice (crime) Hi­man­shu Roy, a com­plaint was reg­is­tered at Nir­mal Nagar po­lice sta­tion in this re­gard and the case was then trans­ferred to the EOW. “The com­plainant had in­vested Rs6 lakh in com­pany af­ter pay­ing up for more peo­ple un­der his chain. Though there is only one com­plaint as of now, we re­quest peo­ple to come for­ward and lodge more com­plaints,” Roy said.

EOW SAYS

“In­ves­ti­ga­tions have re­vealed that no prod­uct is be­ing sold by the com­pany which can gen­er­ate rev­enue. They claim they pre­pare sur­veys and sell it to firms like ICICI, Nes­tle and Bata. How­ever, three months ago, CEO Manoj Sharma had ac­cepted that these claims were false and that these firms were not cus­tomers," said ad­di­tional com­mis­sioner of po­lice (EOW) Ra­j­vard­han

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