Mumbai: Self-proclaimed multilevel marketing (MLM) firm Speak-Asia’s former country coordinator, Pankaj Shah, was produced before the Esplanade court on Monday and sent to judicial custody till October 30. Police said Shah’s arrest is significant as he helped set up SpeakAsia in early 2010.
Cops said Shah was attached to a reputed south Mumbai hospital as medical researcher before joining hands with MLM companies. “He worked with the firm between January and October 2010 until he was asked to resign. The company appointed Tarak Bajpai as COO of SpekaAsia in his place,” said a police officer. Shah was earlier questioned in connection with the Rs 500-crore Aryarup MLM case. Shah admitted that he had helped several MLM companies to set up their base.
Cops said some SpeakAsia panelists have floated blogs and websites claiming that they will start returning investors’ money soon. “Some investors have received SMSes and a group of SpeakAsia sympathizers is trying to convince investors that their money will come back to them,” said the officer.
An officer who is part of the probe said the company and people associated with it have been filing petitions and applications before the court “just to delay the probe”.
“The company earlier told the court that the issue was a civil dispute and not a criminal case. A hearing was on in the Supreme Court and the petitioners withdrew their case. Similarly, after some investors asked the SC to quash an FIR against the firm, the SC lambasted the petitioners and the petition was withdrawn,” the cop said, adding that some investors approached the Bombay HC with a petition saying SpeakAsia was being targeted by the media but later withdrew it.
The Times of India, October 23, 2012