The lead up to Speak Asia’s Nov 14th SC hearing
For some strange reason little information has leaked out about what went down at Solomon James’ hearing in the Supreme Court. Yesterday just prior to the hearing this message was published on speakasiaonline.mobi;
I AM SORRY EXCUSE ME PLEASE, MY PRICIPLES HAS SERIOUSLY INSTRUCT THAT BECAUSE OF SECURITY REASON THEY DONT ALLOWED MORE THAN 3TO 4 PERSON IN SUPREME COURT, SO REST ASSURED IWILL BE BACK WITH GOOD NEWS.
HELP ME TO MAINTAIN THIS DECORUM ,WE ARE ALL GOOD SOVERIENG PEOPLE YES AND WE HAVE TO MAINTAIN DICIPLINEAT ALL PLATE FORM
THANKS FOR THE FRIENDS WHO HAS RAISED THIER HANDS AGAINST MY REQUEST.
Since then, as far as I can tell nothing has been released publicly by either Solomon James, AISPA or Speak Asia themselves.
This is in stark contrast to the last hearing regarding the matter, as almost immediately upon its conclusion Speak Asia’s members published their own positive spin on the outcome.
One can only assume this time, the abundant silence indicates otherwise. Especially considering that AISPA secretary Ashok Bahirwani wrote with great excitement back in October that yesterdays hearing was to provide us with the knowledge of ‘what the stand of all the parties is’ and also that ‘we will come to understand what the Hon. Court thinks prima facie, and what is the stand of the Hon. Court.‘.
One would think had the stand of the parties involved, and what the court thinked was positive regarding Speak Asia, that Bahirwani and Speak Asia’s members would have been shouting it from the rooftops by now.
Meanwhile some more information has come to light regarding the criminal investigations into Speak Asia. The long and the short of it?
Monday’s Supreme Court hearing on the 14th November is probably not going to be as defining as many would have hoped.
LiveMint have published several updates regarding investigations by the EOW, the Enforcement Directorate, Ministry of Corporate Affairs and Indian Income Tax Department.
With just over 48 hours to go till Speak Asia’s next major Supreme Court hearing, here’s the current status of most of the investigations into Speak Asia by the authorities.
The Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax Department
Perhaps the most damning allegation thus far stems from India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Income Tax Department (ID).
The ED charge that using ‘at least 100 overseas bank accounts‘, Speak Asia and it’s promoters and associates ‘breached India’s foreign exchange laws and evaded payment of income tax‘.
With Speak Asia being under investigation for months now, despite claims by Speak Asia’s members that the authorities have been sitting on their hands with nothing to show for it, an unnamed ED official revealed that
The investigation is at an advanced stage and we expect to file a show-cause notice by the end of December.
Despite claims by Speak Asia as recent as just two days ago that they are ”totally committed to cooperating with the concerned authorities‘, LiveMint claim that
Manoj Kumar, chief executive officer (India) of Speak Asia, did not respond to an email sent to him on Thursday. He also could not be reached on his mobile phone.
Subsequently the ED has had to instead had to seek ‘information from foreign countries‘ on the aforementioned accounts of Speak Asia and its associates.
Whilst the ED investigations will no doubt continue on regardless of what happens in the Supreme Court on Monday, the end of December puts us currently roughly six weeks away.
The IT department on the other hand is building a strong case charging that neither Speak Asia or its associates paid any tax on their earnings;
The I-T department has already issued show-cause notices to the firm and its associates, asking them to explain why they should not be penalized for not filing tax returns.
It has also frozen Rs. 134 crore in the bank account of Speak Asia.
Apparently these show-cause notices have been replied to by Speak Asia and the company has ‘agreed to file income-tax returns with the department‘ with the IT department ‘expecting the tax returns by the end of this month (November)‘.
Upon being received, no doubt the IT department will continue their investigations, but unfortunately as of this time no further timetable or investigation schedule has been mentioned by the IT department.
The Economic Offenses Wing
Increasingly becoming the public face of the multiple departments investigating Speak Asia for criminal activity, the Economic Offenses Wing (EOW) unusually declined to comment on the progress of their investigations.
Rajvardhan Sinha, additional commissioner of police at EOW in Mumbai, said the department is still investigating Speak Asia and declined to share details of any findings.
With the EOW expected to play a major role in Monday’s case against Speak Asia, no doubt any specifics mentioned by the EOW at this late stage could jeopardize the proceedings.
With Monday just around the corner, we’ll have to wait and see what the EOW say then.
Sinha did however mention that the EOW had ‘submitted a report on the company to the Bombay high court’ and was holding a ‘two-day seminar on law enforcement next week that will also discuss how to investigate the so-called Ponzi schemes‘.
This came about after the
the Bombay high court directed EOW to file a report on Speak Asia and other multi-level marketing firms, which were being investigated by the police, and detail preventive steps it proposes to put in place to deal with such marketers.
The Ministry of Corporate Affairs
There’s not much to report on the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) investigation into Speak Asia.
Quoting a ‘senior official’ of the MCA, it was stated that the ‘MCA is expecting the SFIO report by December‘. The SFIO being the Serious Fraud Investigation Office, the investigative agency of the MCA handling the case.
So what’s going to happen in the Supreme Court on the 14th November?
AISPA sectretary Ashok Bahirwani mentioned back on the 31st of October that yesterday’s Solomon James hearing would include the presence of the RBI, EOW and Finance Ministry.
The fact that this hearing hasn’t been reported on does leave cause for concern and could hint at a possible negative outcome for Speak Asia come Monday in the Supreme Court.
It’s well noted that at the last hearing, updates on how it went were published within an hour of the hearing’s conclusion and this was likely due to the perceived positive nature of the hearing for Speak Asia.
Of particular interest in yesterday’s hearing would be any remarks made the RBI and EOW, both of whom are required to make an appearance at Mondays hearing. Details of the involvement in yesterday’s hearing could strongly indicate what they will present to the court on Monday.
Looking at the other departments mentioned in the LiveMint report, it’s clear that the investigations are ongoing and for one reason or another, aren’t likely to be concluded for at least another month yet.
Thus I imagine on Monday these departments will simply rock up to court, explain that their investigations are ongoing and be given more time.
Contrary to popular belief amongst Speak Asia’s members that Monday is some sort of deadline for the authorities, I’ve stated many times before that it is extremely unlikely that the Supreme Court will order a closing or deadline for any criminal investigation.
Criminal investigations aren’t just shut down because of impatience, it’s unheard of.
Taking into account the December predictions made by the Enforcement Directorate and MCA, along with the IT department waiting on Speak Asia and associates to file a tax return, any conclusion to any of these investigations still seems at least a month away.
As for the EOW, they’ve already released quite a lot of information over the past two months pertaining to their investigations. I’d imagine at this point there’s nothing new to report and the summaries of what they have already made public will be presented to the court on Monday.
The CID and RBI on the otherhand have remained largely silent and it is with great interest we wait to see what updates and information they present.
Especially seeing as yesterday upon condition of being granted anticipatory bail, Speak Asia’s COO Tarak Bajpai, along with Rajiv Mehrotra (head web developer), Rahul Shah (VP of Tulsient Information Systems – a company owned by Speak Asia Indian CEO Manoj Kumar), Ravi Khanna (accountant) and Deepankar Sarkar (Speak Asia master panelist) had to make ‘themselves available on 11th November, 2011 at 10.00 a.m. for interrogation‘ by the authorities.
Up until now, Speak Asia have pretty much hidden Tarak Bajpai from the authorities by placing him in hospital immedatiely after arrest, and then harbouring him in hiding upon his discharge. I have read since that not surprisingly, right before he is to be interrogated, Bajpai is back in hospital but at the time of publication I can’t confirm this.
Aside from any developments following yesterday’s interrogation, personally I’m looking forward to either of these departments taking Speak Asia to task for submitting a business model they never implemented. That would be something I’d love to hear the company defend, as thus far it has gone unchallenged by any Indian authority.
Barring any surprise allegations from either the EOW or CID at Monday’s hearing, I imagine the court will simply set another hearing for sometime in December and maybe even as late as January.
For now, all we can do is wait and see what happens on the 14th November. Stay tuned.
When 4 days back the speakasia site suddenly started to work some users got a clue that the site/server was not with the EOW. Here is what they noted when they logged in.
One there in the binary tree there was a new option called Not Migrated and
Two there was a EXIT option.
The users who noted this started to post queires on facebook page that if the site was with EOW then how come there is a change in options suddenly. EOW cannot do this they say, furthermore SpeakAsia corporate team released a message on their letterhead saying they dont know how the login worked and dont know whether EOW has released the server and they will not touch the server till they get official control.
The users are now coming to terms that EOW does not have control over the servers and speakasia can only change the options.
These queries by users to their respective page owners at facebook remained unanswered as who changed options in the login if control of speakasia site is with EOW as told by speakasia.
As i have been stating all along is that Haram Khor who has the website under her control needs to pay her panelists some (say 50%)of the accumulated survey income through foreign banks having branches in India.
That is a very simple job as she already has bank details of its panelists and there would be no mention other than on the panelists accounts on her website, who has made the payment. She is bound to have the support of panelists all over again which has reached near zero.
Tomorrow, November 14, at the request of the investigating authorities the Supreme Court is bound to set a date after the winter holidays of the court, i.e. late January 2012.
It seems awfully strange that Speak Asia would just hand over control the EOW when they are under no legal obligation to do so.
Under no legal obligation to return to India, despite being wanted by the authorities for questioning this hasn’t stopped Speak Asia from hiding it’s CEO’s in Singapore and Dubai.
Neither did it stop them from hiding Tarak Bajpai in hospital and then location(s) unknown upon his discharge.
Why would they just hand over their website login information?
Did anyone manage to take a screen capture of the new options? (I acknowledge the logins are now currently blocked again). The addition of any new options indicates a programming change to the backend of the website, something the EOW have nothing to do with.
The only party that would make actual programming changes to the website (such as enabling and disabling databases and option changes) are Speak Asia themselves.
Also still nothing has been made public regarding Friday’s Supreme Court hearing. Solomon James, Speak Asia and AISPA are completely silent on the hearing.
I hope today’s Supreme Court hearing is a bit more transparent.
That won’t happen until the criminal investigations are completed and Speak Asia have either been condemned or cleared in court.
Being a foreign bank still carries with it liability and whilst Speak Asia are under criminal investigation no bank is going to business with them. There’s simply too much liability on their part (Speak Asia can vanish at any time).
Well the Supreme Court hearing is over for today. From what I can tell some committee has been set up and once again everybody has to be present on the 21st of November.
Speak Asia’s members seem to be interpreting this as ‘payments will start again soon’ based on the claim by Speak Asia that they have the money to cover payments. As far as I can tell though it’s yet again going to be each side presenting their case infront of another body.
The fact still stands that the Supreme Court can’t exempt banks from liability so payments are not a possibility until the EOW, CID criminal investigations and now most likely the tax investigations are concluded and ruled upon in court.
Payments are dead in the water till then, no matter how many committees are set up.
There are two more cases up for hearing on the 16th November – a criminal hearing and another AISPA ‘why haven’t we been paid yet’ one.
The AISPA one is just going to be delayed for a later date for the same reason today’s hearing was, but the criminal one should be interesting.
No word still on any specifics of what the RBI, CID or EOW presented in court if they were present.
edit: So apparently once again none of the above authorities made an appearance. Speak Asia’s members will naturally hold this as a sign they have nothing on Speak Asia, but it’s pretty obvious the authorities themselves acknowledge there’s no point showing up to these ‘waah why can’t you pay us’ hearings until the criminal side of things is settled.
I imagine all parties involved will be there on Wednesday seeing as it’s a criminal matter being heard rather then these civil hearings.