The particulars of the Solomon James writ 383
The Solomon James writ 383 was first heard in the Supreme Court on the 9th of September 2011 and after a few hearings, the court ordered the formation of the Lahoti Committee on the 14th of November.
We have heard the learned counsel for the parties.
In our considered view, it is a fit case where a serious attempt should be made for an amicable settlement of the dispute between the parties through the intervention of a learned mediator.
We, accordingly, request Hon’ble Mr. Justice R.C. Lahoti (Former Chief Justice of India) to explore the possibility of an amicable settlement between the parties.
Due to the fact that only 115 panelists are signed and registered on the James writ, to date a big question mark has loomed over who exactly the writ benefits – namely the 115 panelists signed on the writ, or the entire 1.2 million panelists of Speak Asia.
A few days ago Justice Lahoti, in charge of the mediation process between Speak Asia and its panelists, clarified that the Lahoti Committee ‘mediation proceedings are for the panelists who have filed the case and all the related matters would be examined‘.
Naturally upon the revelation of this, a bigger question was raised as to whether or not the writ itself covered every panelists of Speak Asia, or just the 115 signed.
This I believe can be answered by sharing what we know of the James writ. As of yet, despite the writ having the potential to represent 1.2 million of Speak Asia’s members, the specifics of it haven’t been made public, until now.
Here’s what we know.
There are 115 petitioners & Mr. Solomon James is the authorized signatory and has signed the petition on their behalf.
The respondents are:
1. Union of India through the Ministry of Finance
2. Reserve Bank of India
3. Speak Asia Online Pte. Ltd.
4. Haren Ventures Pte. Ltd.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court has impleaded Central Board of Direct Taxes as Respondent No. 5 & the Economic Offenses Wing of Mumbai Police as Respondent No. 6.
Being a petition, the James writ could very well stand to represent all panelists, despite the mediation process of the Lahoti Committee only mediating in respect to the 115 signed panelists on the writ.
Closer inspection reveals that
The prayer in the petition is:
a) Issue a Writ of Mandamus, a writ in the nature of mandamus and /or any other appropriate writ and/or direction to Respondent No. 3 (Speak Asia) to disburse the payments due to the Petitioners & other panelists against the reward points earned by the panelists.
Also to direct Respondent No. 4 (Haren Ventures) to refund the subscription amounts due to the Petitioners & other subscribers for the period the e-magazine was not provided.
Interesting to note here that the Speak Asia’s membership fees were handled not by Speak Asia, but by one of CEO Harender Kaur’s private shill companies, Haren Ventures.
The writ petition also clearly states that Solomon James and the signed panelists are seeking not only refunds (either partial or whole) of their membership fees, but also ‘the payments due against the reward points earned by the panelists‘.
It’s worth noting at this point that with access to Speak Asia’s website database, the EOW stated this figure is 30,000 crore in payouts (5.8 billion USD), whilst the company only managed to raise 2,200-2,400 crore (431 – 470 million USD) from membership fees.
In relation to the James writ, Speak Asia has reportedly filed an affidavit stating their commitment to pay panelists their dues. How this is possible with a 5.4 billion USD discrepancy between what they owe and money the company took in, remains unknown.
b) Issue a Writ of Mandamus, a writ in the nature of mandamus and /or any other appropriate writ and/or directing that the money so collected from the panelists/subscribers be refunded them in toto as being public money and any investigation shall not put an embargo or hitch in the refund of the same in toto.
Now if I’m understanding the above correctly, they’re asking that no criminal investigation prohibit the panelists being paid their owed money.
The reasoning for this appears to be that the panelists are asserting the money they paid to Speak Asia in membership fees is ‘public money’.
Panelists are members of the public sure, but this was hardly public money. As I understand the definition public money is money of the public, whereas Speak Asia’s panelists used their private funds in an individual capacity to pay Speak Asia.
c) Issue a Writ of Mandamus, a writ in the nature of mandamus and /or any other appropriate writ and/or directing the appointment of san independent committee or to Respondent No. 1 (Ministry of Finance) or Respondent No. 2 (RBI) for the preservation, regulation, monitoring and supervision of the huge public money tentatively more than Rs. 150 crore unless the same is being refunded in toto more than 1 million panelists and investors spread all over the country, including the present petitioners & allowing them to participate in the business activities of the Respondent No. 3 (Speak Asia) to earn their day –to – day livelihood.
This is a big one, and again if I’m understanding it correctly James and the petitioners are asking that either the Ministry of Finance or RBI be asked to supervise the money with Speak Asia that has been frozen so that business operations can continue.
Given the ponzi scheme business model of Speak Asia used between May 2010-May 2011 is what’s being criminally investigated, I don’t see this happening.
Not withstanding the fact that the banks themselves are blocking any transactions of Speak Asia through official channels, with no direction from either the RBI or Ministry of Finance.
A RBI cautionary was sent out warning the banks of facilitating transfers of companies under criminal investigation, but the RBI have confirmed multiple times now that they themselves never instructed any banks to block transactions of Speak Asia. The banks are doing this themselves and will most likely continue to do so until all criminal matters and investigations Speak Asia is involved in are concluded.
Thus this demand by the signed petitioners seems largely useless and mostly dependent on wishful thinking.
d) Issue a Writ of Mandamus, a writ in the nature of mandamus and /or any other appropriate writ and/or directing the said amount to be deposited before this Hon’ble Court in interest bearing account
Again, with all banks in India voluntarily blocking transactions Speak Asia is involved in, I can’t see this happening as the Supreme Court cannot guarantee an absolution of the liability of the banks involved in any such transfer.
e) Such further & other reliefs as the nature & circumstances of the case may require.
This seems to be a general clause, included just incase the petitioners missed something in their other demands.
Continuing on, here are some excerpts of the James writ that are of interest;
Paragraph 16 mentions that the Reward Points can be burnt / redeemed by buying products online or encashed.
Cashed out sure, but redeemed by buying products? Speak Asia never actually implemented this business model – as evidenced, certain parts of the James writ are inaccurate and false.
Paragraph 17 states that the panelists / investors consistently received e-magazine from Respondent No. 4 (Haren Ventures) & the Reward Points from Respondent No.3 (Speak Asia).
This one is interesting, as to date the exact nature of the business relationship between Haren Ventures and Speak Asia hasn’t been made public.
All we know is that Harendar Kaur owns Haren Ventures and is also listed as the global CEO of Speak Asia. Given the charges of money laundering laid out against Speak Asia by the Enforcement Directorate and tax evasion by the Income Tax Department, irregularities such as using shill companies owned by Speak Aisa management to enable the scam only further cast suspicion on the greater business operations of Speak Asia.
Paragraph 19 mentions that Respondent No. 4 (Haren Ventures) was not able to do bulk transfer of funds owing to the RBI circular dated 23/05/2011.
As far as we know, the RBI circular was simply a cautionary that warned against permitting the transfer of funds of companies under criminal investigation (specifically by name, Speak Asia).
The assertion that Haren Ventures was also included in this cautionary is news to us, along with the assertion that the banks are actively blocking transfers with companies merely associated with the business operations of Speak Asia.
Mind you, why Haren Ventures would have reason to transfer any money to panelists is unknown, as all monies were paid to Speak Asia directly for membership (how the company laundered the membership fees afterwards and through which shill companies has been a focus of the EOW’s ongoing investigation).
As you can see, not all is factually correct in the James writ petiton but upon viewing these parts of it, I think we’ve got enough to confirm that, the Lahoti Committee aside, whatever orders the Supreme Court makes in relation to this case will affect all panelists.
Looking forward tomorrow will see a series of court cases relating to Speak Asia being heard.
The Solomon James writ 383
Unexpectedly, last Friday the Supreme Court updated the listing for the Solomon James writ 383 case with a scheduled hearing to take place this Monday 12th December (click to enlarge).
It’s worth noting that in the 14th November order the Supreme Court stated that following the formation of the Lahoti Committee, Justice Lahoti will ‘submit a report to this Court after the mediation proceedings are concluded‘.
Upon this happening, the Supreme Court further ordered that whoever is responsible for such things ‘list this matter immediately after receiving the report from the learned mediator‘.
There is no other reason for this matter to come before the Supreme Court prematurely, so this listing is of great interest as Senior Panelists of Speak Asia are running around telling everyone that this is a committee meeting and not a Supreme Court hearing.
Others still are telling panelists to wait for ‘an official announcement’, as evidently the Supreme Court of India isn’t official enough for them.
Speak Asia Writ 3210
Writ 3210 is listed for hearing on Monday 12th November in the Mumbai High Court and was filed by Speak Asia against the State of Maharashtra (the EOW).
In filing writ 3210 Speak Asia hope to quash any FIR(s) lodged against it in the Raigad District.
Writ 3210 was supposed to be heard on Friday 11th December but was adjourned without being heard (no reason was given).
Speak Asia Writ 3211
Writ 3211 is listed for hearing on Monday 12th November in the Mumbai High Court and was filed by Speak Asia against the State of Maharashtra (the EOW).
In filing writ 3211 Speak Asia hope to quash any FIR(s) lodged against it in the Thane District.
Writ 3211 was supposed to be heard on Friday 11th December but was adjourned without being heard (no reason was given).
Bail Application of AISPA President Melvin Crasto
After being remanded to judicial custody since Wednesday night, Crasto’s bail application hearing continues.
With the prosecutor and Crasto’s defense both having put their arguments forward, the court was to decide on the matter on Friday 11th December but instead once again reserved their decision (as they did on Thursday December 10th) over the weekend.
This matter has scheduled for another court hearing on Monday December 12th.
Speak Asia ‘Special Leave Petition’ 7509/7510
Back in August it seems, Speak Asia took the CID to court (case 5626/2011 heard in Hyderabad District) in the state of Andhra-Pradesh in what appears to be an attempt to pre-emptively stop the CID from investigating them.
This matter was disposed, meaning Speak Asia’s petition to stop the CID from launching criminal proceedings against them was rejected.
I haven’t been able to find any judgement outlining the specifics of this case (the AP High Court website is coming up with nothing for 5626/2011), but Speak Asia appear to have appealed this judgement and the matter is now before the Supreme Court.
Listed for a hearing on Monday 12th December in the Supreme Court is case 7509-7510/2011 (click to enlarge).
Once again Speak Asia appear to be pre-emptively seeking the ‘quashing of criminal proceedings‘ that the CID wish to bring against it as a result of an investigation into the company.
This appeal has been going on for a while and was last heard in the Supreme Court on the 21st of October where Speak Asia sought
- an application(s) for ex-Parte stay
- an exemption from filing c/c of the impugned Judgment
- permission to place addl. documents on record
This is around the time it was reported that Speak Asia submitted a business model to the Supreme Court that they never actually used (October 18th), thus committing perjury.
Now if I’m putting all this together correctly, it appears back in August the CID were ready to launch criminal proceedings against Speak Asia. Naturally not wanting this Speak Asia took the CID to court and lost, on the grounds that their business model was a ponzi scheme.
The matter was subsequently disposed but Speak Asia appealed this judgement against them.
Now the matter is before the Supreme Court and Speak Asia are once again seeking to prevent the CID from launching criminal proceedings against the company, by putting forth a revised business model – one which they never used.
How this deception and fraud plays out for the company in court tomorrow should be very interesting indeed.
I maintain that even if Speak Asia did plan on introducing this product based business model, the fact of the matter is they never did (any panelist can confirm this and they’re lying if they state otherwise).
The CID are seeking to launch criminal proceedings based on the activities of the company using a business model between May 2010 to May 2011, which is drastically different to the model Speak Asia have now presented to the Supreme Court.
Fraud and perjury aside, it’s interesting to note this strategy of Speak Asia’s of trying to pre-emptively quash criminal proceedings against themselves, rather than actually defend any charges brought against it.
Why would a company that has nothing to hide not just simply be confident it could defend itself from any criminal proceedings brought against it by the CID (and other agencies)?
Why instead, without even knowing what charges the CID are going to bring against them, are Speak Asia fighting so hard to squash the criminal proceedings before they are filed?
Most likely, because they know full well that defending, as the EOW put it, ‘the largest MLM fraud in the history of India‘, is bound to be a lost cause.
Furthermore is this case responsible for the delay in action by the EOW, ED and IT from bringing about their own criminal proceedings against Speak Asia?
Hopefully tomorrow we’ll finally get some concrete answers.