Mumbai: The economic offences wing (EOW) has booked two Italians in a cheating case concerning the UAE-based firm Seven Rings International, which, the EOW says, is linked with SpeakAsia.
Elia De Prisco and Antonio Grasso are Seven Rings’ directors. They are among seven accused, the others being Indians. Against them, the EOW on Wednesday registered a case of cheating and criminal conspiracy under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act.
The same day, the EOW registered a fresh FIR against investment firm Red Carpet, again linked with SpeakAsia according to the police. “Red Carpet lured investors with promises of huge returns and asked them to invest money in the film industry,” said an EOW officer. “The scheme targeted investors in Meghalaya and other cities and villages in the northeast.”
Also on Wednesday, the EOW slapped a case on Admatrix Pvt Ltd. All three cases have some of the accused in common. The EOW says it has proof of a common link among SpeakAsia, Red Carpet, Admatrix and Seven Rings. “All these companies are connected to one another and we have evidence to prove this. In the three fresh cases, victims were cheated of over Rs 300 crore,” said Rajvardhan Sinha, additional commissioner of police (EOW).
The EOW is probing a 2011 case against SpeakAsia, in whose schemes people invested over Rs 2,276 crore. In Maharashtra alone, Speak-Asia had 18 franchises. Seven Rings’ scheme, floated in February 2008, targeted high-income individuals. The company would promise returns of Rs 10,000 per day on an investment of Rs 35 lakh for a year. Among the accused is SpeakAsia’s Indian head Manojkumar Sharma.
On Thursday, an email from SpeakAsia’s online corporate marketing team said, “To the best of our knowledge, no FIR has been lodged against Seven Rings International. We would like to state on record that SpeakAsia has nothing to do with a company by the name of Index Admatrix Pvt Ltd whatsoever. As regards Seven Rings International, they were only a content vendor for EZine Magazine, which was distributed by HVP Singapore. The only correlation (sic) we have is that this magazine allowed the consumer to participate in various activities of SpeakAsia.”
The Times of India, March 31, 2012