Friday, September 28, 2012

‘No mediation in SpeakAsia cases’


Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: The Supreme Court has recalled its order allowing mediation for settling the complaints of investors who lost their money in schemes floated by investment firm SpeakAsia. In a recent order, the SC said the complaints are criminal in nature and facts presented before it does not justify settling the disputes through mediation. 

    Solomon James, one of the investors, known as panelists in the firm’s parlance, had moved the SC seeking directions for distributing Rs 141 crore in various bank accounts among them. This money was frozen by cops after a case was registered against the firm’s office-bearers. Over 175 accounts in various banks in India have been frozen. The city police’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW), investigating the case against SpeakAsia for cheating over 20 lakh investors, has so arrested more than 10 persons. “According to
our estimate, investors lost Rs 2,276 crore in the firm’s schemes. The SC has allowed EOW and Enforcement Directorate (ED) probing the money laundering allegations, to continue with its probe,” said Rajvardhan Sinha, additional commissioner of police, EOW.

    The company told the court earlier that it wanted to repay its investors and deposited $10mn (Rs 50 crore) in a Singapore bank. However, the police was not satisfied with this. “If they were interested in returning the money, why only Rs 50 crore? They should have returned the entire amount of Rs 2,276 crore. Why did they want to pay only a few hundred people, while there are over 24 lakh investors across the country?” a police officer asked.

 All the accused arrested in this case are out on bail. The apex court had appointed a retired SC judge as mediator, who was busy getting all the correct records of investors, the money duped and other legal things. However, the SC has now made it clear that the case does not justify settlement through mediation.  

The Times of India, September 28, 2012

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