Monday, August 13, 2012

SpeakAsia and AdMatrix: The gang of MLM operators

Senior officials from investigating agencies have been saying that there are sets of people who move from one place to another floating a new MLM or Ponzi scheme

Moneylife Digital Team

SpeakAsia, the now defunct online survey company, which is embroiled in a multi-crore scam and AdMatrix, another multi-level marketing (MLM) operator not only share the same business module but it is alleged that the people behind both the companies are the same. And they are operating together since 2003.

According to information procured from the Registrar of Companies (RoC), Mumbai, people like Gerard J Wessil, Elia De Prisco, Monique Francoise, Ram Niwas Pal, Manoj Kumar (the absconding CEO of SpeakAsia), Rajah P Jain, Renu Sharma, Rajiv Mehrotra are working together from 2003. Their legal advisors are Ahmed Adbi (currently he is lawyer of All India SpeakAsia Panellists’ Association—AIPSA) and Kedar Goel.

These people are shown as promoter/directors of Mango Business (India) Pvt Ltd (CIN U 29301 MH 2003 PTC 143206), a Mumbai-based company that operate three sites,, and While Gerard J Wessil is shown as president of this company, Elia De Prisco is responsible for training; Monique Francoise was the CEO of the company and looks after marketing. Compensation management was handled by Ram Niwas Pal, while Manoj Kumar was looking after technology and sales. Similarly, Rajah P Jain was responsible for corporate strategy, Renu Sharma for CRM and data centre and Rajiv Mehrotra for purchase, logistics and finance at Mango Business.

Manoj Kumar Sharma, the absconding CEO of SpeakAsia is also related with Tulsient Information Systems Pvt Ltd. Rajiv Mehrotra, Renu Manoj Kumar Sharma and Rajah Jain are also director/promoter of Tulsient Information Systems. Jain is also associated with Tulsiyat Tek Pvt Ltd, which allegedly used to transfer funds collected by SpeakAsia agents to Singapore based Haren Ventures Pte Ltd (HVP).

While SpeakAsia did not have an Indian registration, Tulsient Information and Tulsiyat Tek are registered in India. The registration was done in order to fulfil the ‘know your customer’ (KYC) requirement for opening bank accounts, which later were used to siphon off money.

Sanjeev Dandona, who was earlier arrested by the Economic Offence Wing (EOW), is alleged to be advising both HVP and Tulsiyat Tek and helping in the remittance. But more about him later.

Elia De Prisco is related with Mango Business (India) Pvt Ltd and Seven Rings Education Pvt Ltd, while Antonio Grasso and Dashrath Bendure are named as directors of Seven Rings and Mango Business, respectively. 

AdMatrix, a Holland-based business entity, used to offer extraordinary returns just to watch advertisements. Its “Watch-and-Earn” scheme was launched in India in October 2010. To start with, a person had to pay Rs15,000 for registration with AdMatrix, in order to get access to the AdStation, to view advertisements for a period of one year. If one gets Rs1,000 a week to watch the ads, it would take about four months to recover the registration amount. The company also offered an extra Rs1,000 for every two new people (or a binary pair) introduced to the scheme.

According to some posts on the internet, AdMatrix may be related to SpeakAsia. A writer on “” has quoted a newspaper report that says, “The money trail of Rs600 crore that was allegedly transferred by the founders of the Speak Asia multi-level marketing scheme, to a Singapore bank in the past 12 months, has at least one account in the name of an alleged Holland-based advertisement Ponzi scheme operator; which indicates that the operation may have been on a global scale.”  

Speak Asia duped around 23 lakh investors to the tune of Rs2,000 crore. It promised a weekly income, merely on filling online survey forms. Initially the company paid the money to its panellists but stopped all the payments since May 2011. After complaints were lodged, Speak Asia came under the radar of the EOW.

Earlier, the investigating agency had arrested Speak Asia’s chief operating officer (COO), Tarak Bajpai, along with few other employees. Currently Manoj Kumar, its CEO and Harendar Kaur, a Singaporean of Indian origin and company’s chairperson are absconding.

Earlier, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was directed by the Bombay High Court to provide a hearing to SpeakAsia. However, the MLM company first requested to postpone the appointment with the RBI and later sent its legal officers for the meeting, instead of its top officials. Off course, many of them were absconding or arrested by the police at that time. 

SpeakAsia Online Pte Ltd has filed a case (WPL/1695/2012) against the RBI in the high court under the Banking Regulation Act. The case is still in pre-admission stage and its next hearing is scheduled for 3 August 2012.

Coming back to Dandona, earlier in 2002 he was charge-sheeted by the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) along with seven other people, including three officials from the Transport Department of the Delhi Government for allegedly issuing forged permits for new auto-rickshaws. In May 2010, justice Vipin Gandhi of the Delhi High Court dismissed Dandona’s petition saying, “Prima facie, his involvement appears to be deep-rooted. It cannot be said that on the basis of the allegations contained in the charge-sheet the petitioner WP (Crl.) 586/2010 Page 15 of 16 may not have been involved in the criminal acts attributed to him. Consequently, I see no merit in this petition and dismiss the same.”

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