Speak Asia refuses to share Lahoti Committee news
At 4pm on Monday the 28th November retired Chief Justice Ramesh Lahoti, acting as mediator, and advocates from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Speak Asia and Mr. Rajiv, representing panelists sat down for the first closed-door meeting of the Lahoti Committee.
The meeting lasted roughly four hours and had one simple purpose, to facilitate an amicable resolution to the deadlock between Speak Asia and its members over the refund of membership fees paid to the company.
Nearly two days after the Committee meeting however, Speak Asia has deliberately kept its members in the dark as to what exactly happened on the evening of the 28th. To date, none of the advocates present have announced exactly what was discussed and what the future of the Lahoti Committee will be.
Given that the Lahoti Committee was set up with the sole purpose of helping Speak Asia’s members, this lack of communication seems entirely strange. So today we ask, “why?“
The Lahoti Committee has been much-anticipated amongst disgruntled panelists as evidence of solid progress towards receiving a refund of membership fees paid to the company.
After news broke of Speak Asia’s CEO Harendar Kaur transferring over a hundred million US dollars from India to ‘at least 100 overseas bank accounts of the promoters‘ in Singapore, many suspect (myself included) that the money is well and truly gone.
Used by Speak Asia as a ‘carrot on a stick’ dangled infront of members, the promise of payments to panelists has served as an effective measure to promote unity and support whilst curbing its members from asking questions or demanding answers from a company that, all this considered, has effectively abandoned them.
The last official communication by Speak Asia was on November 10th, 3 weeks ago, and CEO’s Harendar Kaur and Manoj Kumar, along with Tarak Bajpai and other company management haven’t been seen in public for months. All to this day remain in hiding, either overseas or in India itself.
Hiding not just from the authorities, but also from Speak Asia’s members themselves.
Getting back to the Lahoti Committee though, I’ve maintained since the Supreme Court ordered its formation that in the face of criminal action, whatever the end result of the committee is will ultimately prove fruitless in the face of ongoing criminal investigations into Speak Asia by various government agencies.
To date, pending legal action are investigations by the Economic Offenses Wing (EOW), Enforcement Directorate (ED), Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), Criminal Investigative Department (CID), the Income Tax Department (IT) and Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO).
Whilst the EOW investigation continues, the most recent progression being the arrest of the All India Association President Melvin Crasto for an ‘unexplained’ recent $3000 deposit from Speak Asia into one of his bank accounts, it is believed the other departments are waiting on a report from the SFIO due in December before announcing the progress and/or conclusion of their respective investigations.
The following of which will naturally lead to legal action taken against Speak Asia if need be. With the EOW stating the Speak Asia is the biggest MLM fraud in Indian history they have ever investigated, the ED less than two weeks ago announcing they would be charging Speak Asia for money laundering, legal action against the company is virtually guaranteed.
In light of this, it would appear that civil action initiated by panelists, such is the foundation of the Lahoti Committee appears largely dependent on the outcome of aforementioned criminal investigations and their legal conclusions.
To start the Committee now seems premature at best but that withstanding, the Supreme Court ordered the Lahoti Committee be formed and here we are.
Expecting to hear some positive news following the first meeting of the Lahoti Committee, instead Speak Asia’s members have been left in despair wondering just what exactly happened and was discussed in the four-hour long meeting between the parties involved.
Supposedly representing Speak Asia’s 1.2 million members, neither Speak Asia, AISPA nor the senior panelists have taken it upon themselves to be honest with panelists as to the exact nature of what was discussed in the meeting.
Consequently frustrated members of Speak Asia allegedly took matters into their own hands and began to contact Justice Lahoti themselves. Not pleased with the initiative shown by its members, Speak Asia was quick to criticise this behaviour, warning that ‘Lahoti (had shown) open displeasure against the number of phone calls which he receives from us Speakasians‘.
Naturally I can imagine Lahoti wasn’t all to pleased to receive a barrage of phonecalls requesting information as to what was discussed in the committee meeting, but rather than blame Speak Asia’s members, how about Lahoti direct his displeasure at the real problem here, that being the lack of complete and utter lack of communication between Speak Asia and its members.
Should the phonecalls and irritation continue, perhaps Lahoti would do well to address this issue at the next committee meeting, the date of which has as of yet not been made public.
Other than Lahoti’s displeasure at being contacted by Speak Asia’s members, the company, AISPA and senior panelists have not released any solid information to panelists.
Yesterday an update from Solomon James (a panelist whose legal action contributed to the forming of the Lahoti Committee) was promised at 3pm, but when finally published, at roughly 9pm, failed to actually explain anything;
Friends, in my previous post I have submitted my humble request to all Speak Asians that they will maintain a calm because the entire process is turning towards progressive mode.
Again it has been observed that some of you are not realising the scenario and talking very negative on this platform.
This is a platform where we must share positive information in a very positive manner where decorum is maintained.
I have a question to those people, can the problem be solved that way, the way they are looking into it, they are talking of it?
Then why (make) enquires to me when everything is known to all of you in advance, why question (me)?
My humble request to all of you is to just maintain a calm for some time. You will be hearing good news, but not your way – ok?
Similarily, AISPA promised an update from Secretary Ashok Bahirwani but when it was finally published, it too failed to simply detail and explain what happened at the committee meeting;
My update today will be very short and concise and will primarily address the following matter:
The first meeting of the Hon. Mediators meeting yesterday presided by Hon. Mr. Justice R. C. Lahoti ji.
Yesterday the meeting was attended by the counsel for the petitioners, the company (SAOL) and the RBI. Hon. Justice Lahoti ji has issued notices to all parties to remain present before him on the next meeting.
The final date and venues of the next date will be announced by the Hon. Mediator Mr. Justice Lahoti ji shortly.
I understand that it will be prudent on our part not to expect or give minute by minute updates on this sensitive matter while it is active and alive in this mediation process (but) I for one will not be able to give daily updates in this matter.
Have faith, Have Patience, Trust your Company.
As you can see, nothing is communicated that couldn’t be ascertained with a little common sense, that being that the committee meeting happened and a new date will be set sometime in the future.
Noticeably, Bahirwani’s motives and loyalty to Speak Asia’s members has come under increased question of late.
Two weeks ago on the 19th of November and seemingly out of the blue, Bahirwani informed Speak Asia’s members that he would no longer ‘be discussing the SAOL matter on phone‘. Then on the 26th of November Bahirwani alleged that ‘it is only EOW Mumbai who is still investigating‘ Speak Asia, despite the confirmation of investigations from six other government agencies.
Previously transparent in his communications, Bahirwani’s unexplained behaviour towards shunning and closing off the panelists he and AISPA supposedly represent, was echoed on all other platforms directly controlled by Speak Asia and its senior panelists.
- Calls were made to close off the various Speak Asia support groups that exist on Facebook to bring them all under the banner of ‘Speak Asia Powers’, a group controlled by senior Speak Asia panelists
- In the hours before Bahirwani’s update, AISPA requested that Speak Asia’s members not to attempt to discover what was discussed in the committee meeting themselves, urging members to ‘not make any phone calls to’ Lahoti and ‘IMMIDIATELY STOP posting comments, updates on facebook or other such social networking sites and blogs’
- Despite a barrage of protests from Speak Asia members resulting in a backflip on the policy of preventing members from openly discussing the company on the group Speak Asia Powers, the senior panelist admins fo the group yesterday once again are prohibiting members from starting discussion topics
- The blog Speak Asia Mobiclub announced yesterday evening that they had turned on comment moderation to filter out any discussion the admin (believed to be a senior panelist) ‘disapproved’ of
After ensuring that talks between themselves and Speak Asia are safely behind closed doors and out of sight of regular members, those in charge are now quite happy to restrict what little information is communicated and keep members in the dark.
Seemingly happy to use the Speak Asia memberbase like sheep, let’s not forget it was only five days ago that these same senior panelists were pleading for members to join then in ‘a show of unity’ by mobbing the Quila court where the EOW were to produce AISPA President Melvin Crasto following his arrest.
Having recently treated Speak Asia’s members with complete contempt in not being open and honest about the progress of the Lahoti Committee, one can only wonder where is that same unity now.
At the heart of the lack of communications, one thing I’ve pondered is the gravity of what was discussed. Looking at the Lahoti Committee, it’s very purpose seems simple, in that it exists to facilitate a discussion between panelists and Speak Asia to work towards the goal of payment of panelists.
The uselessness of such a process in the shadow of pending legal action resulting from the many investigations currently open into Speak Asia aside, one can only wonder what could have possibly been discussed to warrant such a complete lack of transparency to their constituents by those in attendance.
From my understanding, the dialogue should have been straight forward in that the panelists want their money back and Speak Asia cannot pay them. This is due to the fact that no bank in India will do business with them until the conclusion of the criminal investigations.
But perhaps what was discussed in the committee meeting wasn’t as simple as that. When they announced Speak Asia was the biggest MLM fraud they had ever investigated, the EOW claimed that ‘the notional value of the reward points offered by Speak Asia is 30,000 crore‘ rupees.
Yet at the same time the ED, EOW and IT all maintain that Speak Asia only ever took in revenues of between 2,200 to 2,400 crore rupees, a figure close to the 11,000 rupee membership fee paid by Speak Asia’s members multiplied by the 1.8 million panelist accounts said to have existed.
Supporters of Speak Asia would immediately move to discredit the EOW’s claims but with the Speak Asia asserting that the EOW is in control of the company’s web server and membership database records, it is hard to argue that the EOW do not have sufficient access to company data to substantiate their claims.
Could it be that this obvious discrepancy between money taken in by Speak Asia and what is actually owed to panelists was discussed in the open at the Lahoti Committee meeting?
Another possibility is that when the ED and IT jointly announced that after investigating the matter had found Speak Asia had ‘breached India’s foreign exchange laws and evaded payment of income tax‘, they revealed that some of this money had been deposited into ‘at least 100 overseas bank accounts of the promoters and close associates of‘ Speak Asia.
It is well known that most of the senior panelists are one and the same promoters of Speak Asia too. With their fellow promoter, AISPA President Melvin Crasto, recently arrested over an unexplained $3000 payment into one of his bank accounts (perhaps one held overseas in Singapore?), would it be a stretch to assume that similar payments were made to other senior panelists within the company?
The very same senior panelists that now seek to curtail open discussion about Speak Asia and the recent legal events surrounding the company.
One aspect that supports both of these possibilities was the revelation that (Speak Asia’s?) lawyers are advising all parties involved on what they should and shouldn’t release publicly.
What lawyers have to do with a simple mediation process between panelists and Speak Asia is an interesting question, given that the lawyers aren’t directly involved in the mediation process per say.
The only explanation I can think of to warrant a lawyer’s advice in publicly disclosing what was discussed in the 28th November Lahoti Committee meeting is the risk of the parties involved incriminating themselves.
One of the senior panelist admins of Speak Asia Powers even went so far as to suggest that revealing what was discussed could incriminate Speak Asia itself;
Manish Jain: GOOD EVENING ALL SPEAK ASIANS , NOW WE HAVE TO DECIDE WHETHER WE WANNA UPDATE OR COMPANY FULLY FUNCTIONAL.
Again, in a simple mediation matter what could possibly have been discussed that could incriminate the parties involved, so much so that it ultimately crushes the possibility of Speak Asia ever restarting business operations again?
A question that can only be answered by the parties present and whom are currently remaining tight lipped under the advice of their lawyers.
Whatever the reason one thing is certain, despite claiming to represent the best interest of Speak Asia’s members, those left in charge by Speak Asia to manage its members are doing their best to hide what happened at the Lahoti Committee from going public.
To what end remains a mystery.
Looking forward, later today will see the continuation of the Rajmani criminal PIL filed against Speak Asia, the outcome of which remains to be seen.
Speculating on whether or not Rajmani would withdraw his PIL today, as has been widely suggested by senior panelists of Speak Asia and AISPA, unofficial spokesperson Anju Agarwal yesterday wrote
navnit khosla sent an emissary to buy peace with saol but the management refused, through their lawyers ,to have anything to do with him.
On the back of Bahirwani’s recent suspicious behaviour and false claims, and further damaging the credibility of AISPA, Kkhosla later denied Anju’s claims and stated that
this is a false allegation and I deny the same.
I want the investment made by me in the fraudulent survey scheme of Speak Asia to be repaid. After I read that Speak Asia had publicly stated that it was ready to refund the investments made in their fraudulent survey scheme I contacted Phoenix Legal directly myself and spoke to advocate Mrs. Singh but she declined to discuss the matter.
Later an advocate from Phoenix Legal wrote me a letter stating that the scheme for repayment of the investment was put up on the net and I should contact them only through an advocate.
That I studied the scheme of Speak Asia for repayment of the investment which was put up on the net and I felt that this was not an appropriate or acceptable offer as I would lose money.
Hence I did not thereafter contact Speak Asia or Phoenix Legal for refund of my investment in the fraudulent survey scheme of Speak Asia either directly or through an advocate.
However if there is any reasonable chance of getting back my investment with Speak Asia plus the RPs in the e-wallet I am ever ready to meet, speak or correspond with any appropriate person either directly or through an advocate if that would lead to recovery of the investment in the fraudulent scheme of Speak Asia.
All the investors who have come in touch with me and lost their investment in the fraudulent survey scheme of Speak Asia have agreed that they too would be ever ready to do the same.
In light of AISPA and the senior panelists complete lack of transparency in the matter of the Lahoti Committee (which essentially equates to putting their own priorities first rather than those of the Speak Asia memberbase they supposedly represent), the withdrawal of the Rajmani PIL would appear to be a mistake severing the only current source of information and detailed progress being transparently shared, whilst remaining not under the direct manipulation of AISPA and Speak Asia’s senior panelists.
Update 30th November 4:25pm – I’ve been informed that the Rajmani PIL has been adjourned until the 5th December. Details when I’ve got them.