Friday, December 20, 2013

SpeakAsia fraud: Bulky chargesheet names 13 office-bearers, 8 companies

Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai:  More than two years after a case was registered in the SpeakAsia scam, the economic offences wing (EOW), on Thursday, filed a 5,000-plus page chargesheet against the 13 office-bearers and franchisees of SpeakAsia and eight other companies that had aided in the Rs 2,276-crore fraud.
    The case was registered on July 28, 2011.
    “The chargesheet contains all the evidence that we have collected during the investigation. It was a lengthy probe. The money was collected in India, laundered in Dubai and other countries, and hence, it took time to file the charge sheet. We will be filing supplementary charge sheets too,” said Rajvardhan Sinha, city EOW chief.
    The chargesheet names SpeakAsia COO Tarak Bajpai; director of Tulsiyat Tek Rajiv Mehrotra; SpeakAsia prime franchisee Deepankar Sarkar; panelists Ashish Dandekar, Raeesh Shaikh, Rahul Shah, Sanjiv Dandona among others; and eight firms—SpeakAsia Online, Haren Ventures Pvt Ltd, Tulsiyat Tek, Tulsient Info System, Kritanj Management and Allied Services, Seamless Outsourcing, Seven Rings Education and Seven Rings International.
    “The accused have been booked for forgery, criminal conspiracy and cheating among other charges under the Indian Penal Code and Prize Chit and Money Circulation Banning Act. The maximum punishment for these offences is up to seven years’ jail,” said B PShelke, investigating officer.
    Till date, the police have arrested 17 people and frozen 215 bank accounts of SpeakAsia and its members—more than Rs 141 crore is reportedly lying in these accounts.
    The police have also issued look-out notices against the wanted accused—Manoj Kumar Sharma, India CEO of SpeakAsia; Ramnivas Pal, promoter; and Harendar Kaur, global head of SpeakAsia online—across all airports in the country. EOW officers said that they will file chargesheet against mastermind Ram Sumiran Pal and his brother Ram Niwas later.
    On March 28, 2012, the EOW had registered two fresh cases against SpeakAsia’s sister concerns, UAE-based Seven Rings International and Index Admatrix Pvt Ltd, for allegedly cheating investors of over Rs 1 crore. Several victims approached the police after TOI had reported about the involvement of these two firms in the Speak-Asia case. The police said that SpeakAsia had laundered more than Rs 700 crore from India to Singapore and then transferred it to Seven Rings’ account. Seven Rings’ directors Elia De Prisco and Antonio Grasso, both Italians, were also booked in the cheating case.
    In February 2011, Speak-Asia had entered into the agreement with Seven Rings to evade tax. “While De Prisco had signed the papers on behalf of Seven Rings, Sharma had signed them for 
SpeakAsia,” said a source.
    Police suspect that Sharma is also involved in Brazilian firm Mister Colibri, which operates on the same model as SpeakAsia, as his name is listed as its largest investor.

The Times of India, December 20, 2013

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