The Speak Asia money trail
Moneylife investigation reveals that the mysterious trail of Speak Asia runs through several India companies and the money is being remitted to purchase 'survey software' from a company linked to the shadowy promoters
Some new, worrying details about Speak Asia, the flashy survey company that has ensnared millions of gullible Indians over the past few months, are now available from a Moneylife investigation.
It now appears that Speak India Network Marketing P Ltd is a company registered in Mumbai, with Indian directors. This company and Speak India Online are collecting money from survey panelists and have accounts in ICICI Bank, ING, State Bank of India and a dozen others. Each bank has remitted Rs50 crore to Rs180 crore. About Rs1,000 crore has already been transferred abroad. The money remitted to these accounts are pooled into a company called Tulsiateck, which is also registered in Mumbai.
Our sources tell us that Tulsiateck remits funds to buy "survey software" from a company called Haren Ventures Pte of Singapore owned by Harender Kaur, who sometimes appears as a promoter of Speak Asia at mega events such as the glitzy conference recently held in Goa. The money from Haren Ventures in Singapore may or may not be going to Speak Asia Singapore, the company in whose name this massive 'survey' company has enrolled 1.9 million panelists. Haren Ventures is the distributor of e-zine "Surveys Today". Interestingly, it is also into trading in coal from Kalimantan mines in Indonesia, for China and India, shows a Google search.
We now learn from the banks that some of the accounts of Speak India have been frozen for possible legal violations. If banks take a tough stand, Speak Asia may fold up as quickly as it grew.
For months together there has been no clarity about Speak Asia's business model and no information has been forthcoming as to who owns Speak Asia and how it makes money. It appeared to be another chain-marketing scheme, which was distributing liberal patronage to the Indian media, hiring expensive advertising and public relations firms, even as it was spreading its tentacles at lightening speed.
After the banks have frozen the accounts for possible foreign exchange violations, it should now become an issue that has to be investigated by the Enforcement Directorate, which has clearly been sleeping on its job. The pooling of funds and the import of bogus software is in the jurisdiction of the Enforcement Directorate.
Strangely enough, at the press conference Speak Asia held on Monday, company officials neatly evaded all issues, saying it was collecting Rs11,000 as a deposit from panelists. It claimed that this money was the subscription price for the spectacularly expensive magazine called "Surveys Today".
The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Corporate Affairs have done nothing so far to follow the trail of the large sums of money raised by this company and its modus operandi. Right from the growth of Speak Asia, Moneylife has been warning the public about this company. Recently, two TV channels also telecast detailed reports on the issue.
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