Tuesday, October 21, 2014

This MLM openly flouts SEBI norms and offers 120% returns in a year through stock market investment!

Stockguru.India and its group companies are self-styled investment advisors, offering Rs22,000 on an investment of Rs10,000 in one year

As if there were not enough potholes on the stock market route, here is a multi-level marketing (MLM) company that is promising 20% returns per month! The company Stockguru.India describes itself as the country's 'Premier Financial Consultancy', offering trading solutions in equity, derivatives, currency futures, commodities trading, initial public offerings (IPOs), insurance (life/non-life), general insurance, mutual funds, portfolio management services, terminal handling all under one roof.

Stockguruindia.com (the company's portal) has only one standard line of advice in all market situations-whether it is a bull market or a bear market, range-bound market or volatile market. It says, "We advise our clients to buy shares at a low price and sell them at a higher price. Selecting the right share at the right price and entering the capital market at the right time is an art. We help all our clients to make huge profits by investing in good shares for very short/short/medium/long term depending upon the client's requirements. Trading/investment for minimum intraday to T+5 days may give you a handsome return of 5% to 25% on your capital investment."

This MLM company's investment (!) plan is simple. You pay a minimum Rs10,000 as investment and Rs1,000 as registration fees. There is no limit on the maximum amount one can invest. Stockguruindia.com offers a return of 20% per month for up to six months and the principal amount invested is returned in the next six months. It also gives post-dated cheques of the principal and a promissory note as security. In short, on an investment of Rs11,000, the company offers to pay you Rs12,000 in six months and the rest Rs10,000 over the next six months, a total of Rs22,000 or a 120% return in a year.

So how does Stockguruindia.com offer such a high return where even leading investors like Rakesh Jhunjhunwala found it very hard to earn even 20% return from the stock markets? Here is the company's logic..."If you have gained Rs1,000 somebody has lost Rs1,000. If you have lost Rs1,000 somebody has gained Rs1,000. Most of the people you meet say (around 90%) that we have lost a lot of money in the financial markets. But that means around 90% people you do not know have made huge profits. For every seller there is a buyer."

If this sounds to be too good to be true, it lures investors with an additional 3% per month income through a binary plan of 27 levels. Binary plans of MLM companies are the new clients you bring in, who are placed below you in rank in a right and left combination. It's nothing but a trap. All MLM companies promise say you rewards if you complete the left leg-right leg cycle. But in practice this does not happen. There are very few people who manage to do this in a proper way. A majority of those participating fall in the category where they lack a single member in one leg, or a member becomes inactive thus freezing the spread of that leg and the business.

How do MLM companies operate without a trading license from the regulators, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)? Why has there been no action against Stockguru.India, Stockguruindia.com and its subsidiaries? Market regulator SEBI had, on its part, issued SEBI (Investment Advisers) Regulations, 2007 (the 'Draft Regulations') to regulate the advisory activities of investment advisers in India. But till date it has remained a draft only.

According to R Balakrishnan, a columnist for Moneylife, India probably is the only market in the world where a distributor needs to pass an exam, but absolutely no qualifications are required for someone to become a fund manager. The same is applicable for investment advisors as well. As a result, there are a number of 'self-styled investment advisors', including wealth managers, private bankers, chartered accountants and even some MLM companies like Stockguru.India. 

According to the SEBI Act 1992, "No stock-broker, sub-broker, share transfer agent, banker to an issue, trustee of trust deed, registrar to an issue, merchant banker, underwriter, portfolio manager, investment adviser and such other intermediary who may be associated with the securities market shall buy, sell or deal in securities except under, and in accordance with, the conditions of a certificate of registration obtained from the Board in accordance with the regulations made under this Act."

In addition, the Act says, "No person shall sponsor or cause to be sponsored or carry on or caused to be carried on any venture capital funds or collective investment scheme (CIS) including mutual funds, unless he obtains a certificate of registration from the Board in accordance with the regulations."

Stockguru.India and all its group companies are openly flouting the norms and rules. It is not registered with SEBI as investment adviser and still offers to trade on behalf of its clients. According to information available over the internet, Stockguru.India and its chairman and managing director Lokeshwar Dev, will help anyone to open a demat account with Sharekhan so that they can manage the investor's money. We checked with Sharekhan and the brokerage said, neither Stockguru.India nor Lokeshwar Dev have any relations with or any demat account with them.

In addition, neither Stockguru.India nor any of its group companies possess a certificate of registration from SEBI for CIS, but they are still collecting huge amounts from clients under the pretext of stock market investment. Are the regulators sleeping on this one?

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