speak-asia-online-logoPossibly setting a record for longest-running MLM Ponzi criminal investigation ever, news today from Indian regulators in the ongoing Speak Asia case.

On the 31st of January, six new arrests were made by the Economic Offenses Wing (EOW) in Mumbai.

Those arrested appear to be top net-winners in the scam, including Sanjeev Mehta, Hemant Suryavanshi, Hemant Chavan, Sudhanshu Tripathy, Virendra Singh and Hasmukh Patel.

Sanjeev Mehta is credited as being “head of sales” for India, likely meaning he was right at the top of the Ponzi investment scheme.

Mehta masterminded the “franchise” model Speak Asia deployed, which saw individuals appointed exclusivity in certain geographical locations.

The ‘manager model’ was Mehta’s brainchild, said police, adding, he would identify potential youths and would appoint them as managers in SpeakAsia to lure people.

“Mehta along with his family was staying in a rented flat in Pune. The cheating of over Rs 2,276 crore would not have been possible without the help and participation of the arrested accused,” said B P Shelke, the chief investigating officer.

Combined, the six arrested last week were responsible for soliciting investments of around Rs 150 crore ($21.4 million USD).

The EOW has till date arrested 30 persons and filed a 7,500-page charge sheet against 21 persons and entities in December 2013. “We have frozen more than 250 bank accounts that contain around Rs 142 crore in them.

The SpeakAsia accused had invested crores of rupees of real estate and buying properties,” the source said.

Now, those properties could be seized and auctioned off.

The police have recently invoked the sections of stringent law, Maharashtra Protection of Interest of Depositors (MPID) act and under this law as per court order attached properties could be auctioned to repay the investors.

Despite the large number of arrests in the case, we’ve yet to see anything really stick.

What with all the bullshit orchestrated by Ashok Bahirwani and his AISPA goons at a local level, hopefully these latest arrests and the seizing of property will see at least some money eventually returned to investors.

And hats off to the EOW for persisting with the case.

Rajvardhan Sinha, EOW chief, said, “It’s a lengthy investigation. We have filed a charge sheet earlier and are still investigating the case and arresting suspects.”

For reference, Speak Asia effectively shut down in mid-2011 following a regulatory freeze on its local bank accounts.