Speak Asia - ab MCA bolega

CS Executive Ankit Parikh (Sr. Associate) (284 Points)

19 May 2011  
The recent stir over Speak Asia Online, a survey group that seemed to be offering easy money to close to two million Indians, has caught the atten- tion of the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA). The government said it's investigating Speak Asia after news channel Headlines Today alleged fraud by the firm.

“It is too soon to come to any conclusion regarding the al- leged fraud,“ said D.K. Mittal, secretary, MCA. “However, we are now working closely with RBI (Reserve Bank of India) and Sebi (Securities and Exchange Board of India) and investiga- ting.“

Mittal declined to comment on how Speak Asia got its India licence.

However, a senior official at the survey group said: “Current- ly we are only regulated by Sing- apore. We had written a letter to RBI while setting up shop in In- dia and we were given to under- stand that we needn't fulfil any other requirement.“

Speak Asia made its applica- tion through a bank, the official said.

According to the senior offi- cial, Speak Asia did not seek the approval of the Registrar of Companies while setting up op- erations in India and also did not obtain the approval of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board, which is necessary for any overseas company estab- lishing a business in the country.

According to Speak Asia, the company does not fall under the purview of the two agencies.

As for its Singapore status, parent Speak Asia Online Pte Ltd is listed as “non-compliant“ by the Accounting and Corpo- rate Regulatory Authority of the island nation.

This was because of a delay in submitting documentation, said Manoj Kumar, chief executive officer of Speak Asia India.

“We are compliant with all laws of Singapore and there is no case pending against us or our top management, either in India or in any other country. In the case of accreditation and compliances, the company is currently rated `non-compliant'.

This is due to a delay of about 10 days in providing our minutes of the AGM (annual general meet- ing) for the last accreditation cy- cle. Our financial year ends on 31 May and we will be able to fulfil even this compliance re- quirement soon,“ Kumar said.

Speak Asia Online, a market- ing services firm based in Singa- pore, works on a multi-level marketing (MLM) model that re- wards its members on taking surveys and referring more members to take them. Howev- er, Speak Asia said it was not an MLM firm and didn't identify it- self as a direct selling company either.

“In the case of Speak Asia, consumers' earnings are not de- pendent only on adding more people, but also on the services they provide in the company's other marketing service activi- ties,“ Kumar said. “An MLM company would make it com- pulsory for its members to re- cruit other people in order to earn. Which is why only 3-5% of people enrolled in any MLM company actually make money.“

Speak Asia has no direct cli- ents for which it conducts sur- veys. A senior official at the sur- vey group refused to divulge de- tails of direct clients and said a major portion of the business came from aggregate panellists.

Currently, Speak Asia has close to two million members in India and since January 2010, when it started services, has clocked a revenue of $80.5 mil- lion (`360 crore today) over the last three quarters. According to a press release, 1.2 million pan- ellists have received over $52 million over this period through bank transfers via RBI-author- ized foreign exchange channels.

This income has been gener- ated by the filling up of surveys, giving online opinions on adver- tisements watched and income accrued from referring other panellists. The company has till date invested over $9 million in various marketing, training and business development pro- grammes.


Source : https://www.livemint.com/2011/05/19000330/Speak-Asia-faces-govt-investig.html