Mumbai High Court orders arrest of “Aman Azad”
It’s been a while since I wrote on the ongoing Speak Asia case. Long time readers of BehindMLM will know the saga began with our initial review of Speak Asia back in March of 2011.
Speak Asia, credited with being the largest Ponzi scheme in Indian history, was shut down in late May of that same year, with the ongoing investigation into the company continuing to this day.
A major contributing factor to the delays has been the ongoing legal action filed by Speak Asia management and it’s affiliates. Largely aimed at stalling and thwarting investigations into the company and its management, these actions are funded by Speak Asia’s CEO, Manoj Kumar from abroad.
Kumar fled India when Speak Asia was shut down and, despite promising affiliates he would return in mid 2011, hasn’t set foot back into the country since.
Over the years the Economic Offences Wing have made several arrests and, despite being challenged at every corner by the Speak Asia’s ringleaders locally, have progressively worked their way up the management chain.
Yesterday marked a particular milestone for the EOW, with not only the anticipatory bail of ringleader Aman Azad being denied, but also in that the Mumbai High Court ordered the arrest of Vivek Sharma.
Sharma (right), who goes by the pseudonym “Aman Azad” is largely suspected to be the link between Speak Asia’s CEO Manoj Kumar and Kumar’s local defacto management, who run things out of Mumbai from within the All India SpeakAsia Panelists’ Association (AISPA).
Fearing imminent arrest as the EOW closed in on him, Azad had applied for anticipatory bail a few months ago with the bail application only reaching a conclusion yesterday.
The Bombay high court on Friday rejected the anticipatory bail application of Vivek Sharma alias Aman Azad in the SpeakAsia fraud case.
Sharma, who has been maintaining a nick name of Aman Azad, was initially an agent for the firm and later became a big shot in the firms’ dubious business. The court also asked the police to arrest Azad as early as possible.
Possibly seeing the writing on the wall after the EOW presented evidence against him in court, Azad was not present in the courtroom when the verdict was given.
Of particular interest was supplementary information provided by the EOW in the hearing, which revealed Vivek Sharma was pretty much responsible for all of Speak Asia and AISPA’s online activity following the company’s shut down in 2011.
“After the firm’s business was shut down, Azad began handling the internet portal of the firm and lured investors that the police have not made any case against SpeakAsia and that the firm will be re-started again soon.
He was also handling the All India SpekaAsia panelists associations (AISPA) website. We have traced its server and are going through all the people who have contributed their essays, comments and articles on this website,” said an officer.
As noted, such online resources (including Facebook groups Aman Azad was active in and the so-called “Speak Asia Corporate Marketing” blog Sharma too no doubt is behind), have primarily been used to feed Speak Asia panelists a barrage of misinformation and false hopes of the company restarting and duped investors having their money returned voluntarily by the company.
AISPA is a further extension of those efforts, being used to group and utilise affiliates screened to be most sympathetic towards Speak Asia and its management.
As it stands now the arrest of Vivek Sharma is imminent, pending Mumbai authorities tracking him down. Where Azad has fled to is unclear.
Just last week, following the arrest of a “district collector” of money for Speak Asia, the EOW advised that their investigation was being fast-tracked.
SpeakAsia mentors had used accounts of hundreds of people or of their companies to transfer money.
There are some three-star hotels and event management companies whose accounts were used to launder money. We are calling them one by one to find out whether they did it knowingly or unintentionally,” said a police source.
With the probe being fast-tracked, around half a dozen more arrests are imminent.