Today saw the continuation of a civil proceeding by panelists of Speak Asia who seem to be led by a one Mr. Solomon James.
As per all the civil action launched by panelists, the writ petition today boils down to the simple question ‘why haven’t we been paid, where is our money?’
Following the Supreme Court hearing today, from what I can gather a committee is to be put together either before or on the next hearing date for this case, which is next Monday on the 21st November.
This committee is to bed led by retired Justice Ramesh Lahoti and I believe will act as a mediator between Speak Asia and panelists who are owed money by the company.
Unfortunately for all involved, Lahoti’s committee is going to be completely and utterly useless.
There are two primary points as to why any such committee is a waste of time with the first being that, even if a committee is formed to mediate between panelists and Speak Asia, there is still the issue of banking channels needing to be put in place to facilitate payouts.
I’ve been banging this drum for a while now, but I’ll reiterate once again that no bank in India is going to do business with Speak Asia whilst there are criminal investigations and court cases pending against the company.
You can set up 100 committees led by whoever you want to act as mediators but still no bank is going to take on the liability of transferring funds from a company under criminal investigation.
The second point that renders any such committee is found within the mechanics of the committee itself.
To get an exact understanding of what the establishment of the Lahoti committee will mean for panelists, I now turn you to a video published by Aneesh Sharma, who appears to be a lawyer involved in the Solomon James writ heard today (note that the bulk of the video is in Hindi, the relevant part in English is quoted below).
In the video, an associate of Sharma at 3:15 into this video explains at that
once the composition of the committee is finalised, all payments, all Speak Asia panelists who have claims against Speak Asia can make a representation at that committee.
Either by pleading themselves as a party in this case or (something something) application to this case.
Well that certainly sounds like we’re getting the ball rolling on panelist payments right?
The massive problem here is that Speak Asia has 1.2 million members. If each of these members spent just 2 minutes representing themselves infront of the committee, working 24/7 around the clock it would take Lahoti’s committee 4.5 years to get through every panelist.
5 minutes? Almost 11 and a half years!
Remember, that’s working 24/7 around the clock with no breaks! I think we all know that’s not going to happen.
And even if people are able to submit written claims to the committee, that’s still an absolute gargantuan amount of man hours required to sift through the requests and process them.
The idea behind the Lahoti committee, or any other such committee is ridiculous. At the end of the day the criminal investigations are going to trump any civil proceedings demanding money from the company (yes, even the AISPA case).
Speak Asia’s panelists getting paid depends entirely on the outcome of the criminal cases, and it’s going to go either one of two ways.
Either Speak Asia will be found not guilty of criminal conduct and permitted to restart operations, meaning panelists will get paid as banks will take the ruling as proof they shoulder no criminal liability for doing business with Speak Asia.
Or Speak Asia will be found guilty of criminal conduct and the entire operation will disappear overnight and cease to exist.
Millions of dollars has already been transferred out of India, no company official is showing up to any court hearing, Speak Asia’s CEO’s have been hiding overseas for months and local management is now also in hiding.
Essentially the entire Speak Asia operation is poised to dissolve without a trace at the slightest hint of things turning sour (I hope Phoenix Law were paid upfront!).
Much has also been made of the CID, EOW and RBI failing to turn up to these civil proceedings but honestly, can you blame them for not wasting their time?
They know as well as anybody that these civil suits against Speak Asia are just a giant waste of time that will ultimately amount to nothing until the criminal proceedings are settled. It’s just common sense people.
The EOW, CID and RBI have lawyers advising them of their own… and quite clearly it’s not in their best interests to rock up and waste time indulging panelists demanding the impossible.
Again, nobody is getting paid until the criminal proceedings are over.
Looking forward said criminal proceedings are next in court this Wednesday on the 16th November – and that will be the case to watch.
There is an AISPA hearing on the same day but like today’s hearing, this is a civil one and will most likely simply be delayed until a later date (or they’ll form a committee as useless as the Lahoti one put in motion today).
If the EOW, CID and RBI don’t rock up to Wednesday’s criminal hearing – then and only then do we know we’ve got problems. Till then, stay tuned.
Footnote: Whilst I appreciate that Speak Asia’s activities mostly affect Indians in India, please respect that this is an English blog. Comments not in English will not be published.