speak-asia-online-logoOver the past few months, much has been made of the lack of filing against charges by any authority against Speak Asia.

For the most part, this has been seen as conclusive evidence by Speak Asia members that the company is wholly innocent and that the pyramid business model the company uses is unquestionably legal.

That illusion was shattered today with the news that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) have formally charged Speak Asia with money laundering.

Details are currently scarce and with the Supreme Court ordered mediation process between Speak Asia and its panelists set to take place tomorrow, you can be rest assured the company will do its best to diminish the gravity of the charges laid out against it.

The ED charge is interesting because last we heard the ED, along with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) were waiting on a report by the MCA’s Serious Frauds Investigation Office (SFIO) due out in December.

Whilst the MCA (and possibly EOW and CID) await this report before officially filing any charges, it seems the ED in the meantime feel they have enough evidence to be the first to officially file charges against Speak Asia.

The ED

has booked the company under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) for allegedly sending Rs 900 crore out of the country, disguised as remittances.

A remittance is defined as ‘a sum of money sent, esp. by mail, in payment for goods or services or as a gift‘. With Speak Asia collecting money from panelists for membership, it’s clear that the 900 crore siphoned out of the company into CEO Harendar Kaur’s bank account in Singapore was not remittances.

Rather the company sought to send the money out of India and then once firmly out of reach of the Indian authorities launder it between Harendar Kaur and associates’ various bank accounts and associates to disperse it, thereby making it difficult for any authority to trace the money and track it.

It remains to be seen if these latest charges filed against Speak Asia will have any bearing on tomorrow’s Lahoti led Supreme Court mediation process. Details are currently scarce as to the next steps forward following the ED’s formal charges against Speak Asia.

Most likely though any hope of panelist payments will be put on hold indefinitely until the charges and any subsequent legal action are played out. No doubt these latest money laundering charges against Speak Asia will only further increase a reluctance by any bank in India to do business with Speak Asia.

As I’ve been stating for quite some time now, without the participation of the banks, and mediation process and hope of payment to panelists is ultimately useless.

Being the weekend I imagine more details about the money laundering charges by the ED will be made available over the next 24 hours as we head into Monday the 20th November’s mediation process with concrete uncertainty.

Will the mediation process go ahead? Will the money laundering charges be played out in court? Can we expect to see other government agencies (especially the EOW and CID) file official charges against the company now that the ED have got the ball rolling?

And perhaps most importantly, will Speak Asia’s panelists finally admit that the regulators and authorities in India have most certainly not been sitting on their hands for the past six months. Victory is most certainly not close at hand and despite the lies Speak Asia have spread about a business model they never used over the past year or so, they are still wholly legally responsible for running a pyramid scheme between May 2010 and May 2011.

Speak Asia CEO Manoj Kumar, did not respond to repeated phone calls and an email.

Additionally, another point of interest was the AISPA update issued yesterday by AISPA secretary Ashok Bihirwani. In the update, Bahirwani issued a strict warning to panelists;

Do not waste your valuable time and money in calling me… as starting with immediate effect… I am not going to be discussing the SAOL matter on phone.

Now unless the ED are working Saturdays, I imagine the money laundering charge was filed sometime on Friday. This means that Speak Asia must have known about the charge on Friday and by proxy, so did AISPA and Bahirwani.

Does it come as a surprise just 24 hours that Bahirwani has announced he’s no longer taking phonecalls regarding Speak Asia over the phone?

Not really.

Ask yourselves this, if Speak Asia cut and run tommorow – who other than the company’s panelists would be left holding the bag?

Ladies and gentlemen, you are witnessing the long delayed end game of a pyramid scheme and if it’s not too late – hopefully there’s still a chance that some form of justice will be served.

Stay tuned.


Update 4th January, 2011 – On January 3rd 2011, the ED have officially registered a case against Speak Asia for money laundering.