Enforcement directorate (ED), the agency responsible for enforcing economic laws and fighting economic crime in India, has frozen 36 bank accounts relating to various companies, individuals and proprietorships connected with Vihaan Direct Selling India Pvt Ltd, the master franchisee of multi-level marketing (MLM) company Qnet Ltd in India.
In a release, ED says on Tuesday, it conducted searches at various locations in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai in relation to the money laundering case of Vihaan Direct Selling and froze total 36 bank accounts with amounts involving more than Rs90 crore.
In 2014, ED had registered a case in the Rs425 crore QNet scam for money laundering. ED named QNet Ltd from Hong Kong, its official franchisee Vihaan Direct Selling, Vijay Eswaran, the founder of QI group and three other independent representatives (IRs) of QNet from Mumbai.
In the same year, the economic offences wing (EOW) of Mumbai police, while opposing bail applications of seven in the QNet scam told the Sessions Court how these accused tried to mislead the court by submitting fake documents. The EOW had said QNet team leaders, including former world billiards champion Michael Ferriera, Srinavas Rao Vanka, Magarlal Viravali Balaji, Malcolm Nozer Desai, Navjyot Mahesh Das, Chinar Surendra Shinde and Mereilla Kamal Dutta have misled the Court by submitting a fake document while seeking bail. The police sub-inspector (PSI), under whose name the document was submitted, has, in an affidavit, denied having prepared it, the EOW told the court at that time. (Read: QNet: Ferriera, six others misled court by submitting 'fake' document, says EOW https://www.moneylife.in/article/qnet-ferriera-six-others-misled-court-by-submitting-fake-document-says-eow/38384.html
In August 2019, the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) and the department of consumer affairs under the ministry of consumer affairs, food & public distribution initiated the filing of a winding-up petition against Vihaan Direct Selling (India) Pvt Ltd, a franchise of controversial MLM operator QNet. MCA also issued lookout notices against several persons, including former world billiards champion Michael Ferreira.
The registrar of companies (RoC) in Karnataka inspected the books of Vihaan, which allegedly revealed the company's fraudulent activities with the intention to dupe investors. Based on this report, the RoC has filed a winding-up petition against Vihaan Direct Selling under Section 271 of the Companies Act before the national company law tribunal (NCLT)'s Bengaluru bench.
Further, MCA has also issued lookout circulars (LOCs) against 12 persons associated with the company, including Guhan Ramachandran, MN Gunasheela, Subha Thulasiram, Vanka Srinivasa Rao, Balaji Magaral Veeravalli, Premdas Ramunni Kurup, Kantha Vijaya Sarathi, Muhammad Imthiaaz, Malcolm Nozer Desai and Michael Joseph Ferreira. (Read: QNet: MCA Files Winding Up Petition against Vihaan Direct Selling, Initiates Penal Action)
Earlier, on 6 May 2016, Justice Mridula Bhatkar of the Bombay High Court, while rejecting anticipatory bail applications of five accused in the multi-crore QNet scam, had observed that "the deceit and fraud is camouflaged under the name of e-marketing and business". The HC rejected bail applications of five including, Srinivas Rao Vanka and Magaral Veervalli Balaji, both directors of Vihaan Direct selling (India) Pvt Ltd, Suresh Thimiri, director of Transview Enterprises India Pvt Ltd, Malcolm Nozer Desai, who is a 20% stakeholder in Vihaan and Michael Joseph Ferreira, former world champion of billiards and an 80% stakeholder in Vihaan. (Read: QNet: “It is a chain where a person is fooled and then he is trained to fool others to earn money” says Bombay HC order
As reported by Moneylife, QuestNet and GoldQuest (previous avatars of QNet), the MLM companies that had shut shop in 2009 following police action are back with a bigger bang. They now call themselves as QNet and are thriving in an environment where tens of thousands of Ponzis and MLM companies are able to lure people into believing that they have the formula to instant riches and a high growth career.
QNet operates in India through its official franchisee Vihaan Direct Selling Pvt Ltd which carries the company's brand name in the country. However, Suresh Thimiri, who is often touted as QNet India's chief executive and had denied any relationship with QNet or any of its representatives, owns the 'QNet' trademark in India through his company Transview Enterprises Pvt Ltd!