The Department of Telecom’s (DoT) internal meeting discussed various issues including sending communication to licencees for termination of licence agreement and refund of licence fee in respect of 85 licences which were declared ineligible, among others
New Delhi: Following Supreme Court order that cancelled 122 second generation (2G) licences terming them as illegal, the telecom ministry is likely to send letters to new operators for termination of their licences, reports PTI.
This was discussed in the Department of Telecom’s (DoT) internal meeting to discuss the implications of the Supreme Court order and way forward in this regard.
The members discussed various issues including sending communication to licencees for termination of licence agreement, refund of licence fee in respect of 85 licences which were declared ineligible, and similarly for remaining 37 licences, a source close to the development said.
Further an internal committee of DoT discussed about the show-cause notices for imposition of penalty on International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) violation cases of all licencees.
The committee is also understood to have discussed whether liquidated damages for delay in compliance of second phase of roll-out obligations needs to be imposed or not.
The government in the first phase had collected over Rs300 crore from new telecom operators as liquidating damages for failing to roll-out networks within stipulated period.
The new operators have asked the government to secure their investments. Telenor of Norway, Sistema of Russia are the most aggressive players among the new operators and have set up infrastructure across the country.
Telenor, a majority shareholder in Uninor, claims to have invested over Rs14,000 crore in Indian operations while Sistem, a majority joint venture partner in Shyam-Sistems, has pumped in over $2.5 billion (about Rs12,000 crore).
Both are likely to participate in the forthcoming auction of 2G spectrum to continue their operations and secure investments.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has already issued a consultation paper in this regard seeking industry and other stakeholders' views before finalising recommendations.
With a view to keeping retail investors away from the portfolio management schemes, SEBI on Friday raised the minimum investment amount of clients for such schemes to Rs25 lakh from the earlier Rs5 lakh
Mumbai: With a view to keeping retail investors away from the portfolio management schemes (PMS), the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on Friday raised the minimum investment amount of clients for such schemes to Rs25 lakh from the earlier Rs5 lakh, reports PTI.
PMS offers investors a range of specialised investment strategies to capitalise on opportunities in the market and made suitable to the needs of individual clients.
In a notification amending the SEBI (Portfolio Managers) Regulations, 1993, the regulator said the new rule will apply to new clients as well as fresh investments by existing clients.
“... for the words ‘five lakh’ the words ‘twenty five lakh’ shall be substituted,” SEBI said.
It added that existing investments of clients can continue as such till maturity of the particular investment.
“PMS regulations are light touch regulation and SEBI was worried that retail investors are being drawn into it whereas their interest are not as tightly protected or guarded as it is in mutual fund regulation,” SEBI chairman UK Sinha had said after a board meeting last month.
“With the amendments, SEBI has tried to synchronise the PMS rules with actual reality of the present time. Such schemes are basically from HNIs and big investors and the Rs5 lakh ceiling was set long back in 1993 and no longer holds good,” SMC Global Securities strategist and head of research Jagannadham Thunuguntla said.
SEBI had in its last board meeting on 28th January decided enhance the minimum investment amount of clients under PMS.
In the amendments, SEBI has also said that henceforth portfolio managers will not be allowed to hold the unlisted securities, besides the listed securities, belonging to the portfolio account, in its own name on behalf of its clients.
“SEBI’s enhancement of the minimum limit will help in concentration of quality investors in PMSs and will help them secure qualified and good service. For retail investors there are already other schemes,” CNI Research chairman and managing director Kishore Oswal said.
The company owes over Rs2,000 crore to all its panellists either as subscription amount it collected or income it has to pay for filling surveys. However, the main question is whether Speak Asia really has that much amount left in India?
Speak Asia, the troubled and almost defunct multi-level marketing (MLM) company got a shock of its lifetime from none other than the Indian Supreme Court. The apex court, while hearing a petition filed by Solomon Jemes and others, has told the MLM company to deposit the amount it owes to panellists and tax authorities. However, with not a single official from Speak Asia coming forward (as they all are absconding), there is a slim chance that it may deposit the money in the SC.
There are two issues that are being discussed among Speak Asia panellists based on the Supreme Court order. One, whether the company will deposit any money in the SC and second how much will it be. Incidentally, Speak Asia and its top leaders have been found telling other panellists that the company is willing to pay money to them but the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has frozen its accounts and hence it is unable to pay! However, this is not the case. Several bank accounts related with Speak Asia distributors were frozen by banks after tax authorities initiated inquiry against them. The company does not have any bank account opened under its name in India.
The Supreme Court, in its order on 6th February, has said, “We request the learned mediator (justice (retd) RC Lahoti) to ascertain how much amount in fact is due and payable to the petitioners and other authorities. We direct the concerned respondents to deposit the amount indicated by the learned mediator with the secretary general of the Supreme Court within two weeks of the order of the learned mediator. All the parties would be at liberty to participate in the proceedings before the learned mediator.”
According to a newspaper report, the company has shown willingness to deposit only Rs50 crore that it owes to the 115 panellists who had filed the case. However, the SC had clearly put the onus on the mediator to ascertain the exact amount that Speak Asia owes to the “petitioners” and “other authorities” like the income tax and sales tax departments. This also means other panellists, who are not part of the petition, may or may not get their dues from Speak Asia.
Here the basic question is, how much money the company really has in its (or its distributors’) accounts and if it is willing to pay to the money to all panellists or not. As Moneylife has already reported, Speak Asia owes around Rs2,280 crore by way of payments to about 19 lakh panellists it has enrolled as of 31 July 2011 and it may have to pay other dues like payments to newspapers for publishing the company’s advertisements and taxes.
This is the very same company, whose officials, while speaking at a press conference in Mumbai last year had claimed Speak Asia has plenty of money in its accounts.
In a statement distributed on 16 May 2011, Speak Asia had said: “At the end of its first phase, Speak Asia Online Pte Ltd (SAOL) has clocked a revenue turnover of $80.5 million (about Rs400 crore) over the last three quarters. 1.2 million panellists have received monies over $52 million (around Rs260 crore) over this period through bank transfers via RBI authorized forex channels. This income has been generated by filling up of surveys, giving online opinion on advertisements watched, and income accrued from referring other panellists. The company has till date invested over $9 million for various marketing, training and business development programmes. The company in line with other overseas online businesses has a collection representative, which pays all applicable service tax in India; they have paid a total of Rs68 crore as service tax to the government of India, up to 30 April 2011.”
When the MLM was operational, it paid about Rs260 crore to 12 lakh panellists. However, as of end July 2011, it owed about Rs2,280 crore to 19 lakh panellists just as income from the surveys they filed, forget getting back the Rs11,000 each of them paid. The company had collected Rs2,090 crore (19 lakh X Rs11,000) as subscription fees from all panellists for its e-zine. In short, the company needs to pay over Rs2,000 crore, if at all it is willing to refund the money either as subscription amount or income from surveys to all its panellists. However, the main question is whether Speak Asia really has that much amount left in India?
According to Moneylife investigations, Speak India Network Marketing Pvt Ltd is a company registered in Mumbai, with Indian directors. This company and Speak India Online were collecting money from survey panellists and have accounts in ICICI Bank, ING, State Bank of India and a dozen others. Each bank had remitted Rs50 crore to Rs180 crore. About Rs1,000 crore had already been transferred abroad. The money remitted to these accounts was pooled into a company called Tulsiateck, which is also registered in Mumbai.
Our sources told us that Tulsiateck remitted funds to buy “survey software” from a company called Haren Ventures Pte Ltd of Singapore owned by Harender Kaur, who sometimes used to appear as promoter of Speak Asia at mega events such as the glitzy conference held in Goa last year. 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 panellists. Haren Ventures is the distributor of e-zine “Surveys Today”.
Last year, after the arrest of Speak Asia’s chief operating officer (COO) Tarak Bajpai and some others associated with its operations, the MLM company released half page ads in newspapers, in order to allay fears of its panellists. Through these ads, the company requested its panellists to use the reward points they had collected, to buy certain unbranded or unnamed products like LCD television sets, in lieu of money. Interestingly, there is one brand ‘YUG’ mentioned on some products which the company claims is a famous brand in Germany. Unfortunately, Germans themselves are clueless and have never heard about any brand called ‘YUG’ in their country!
Some panellists explained that the company was offering products in lieu of reward points (1 reward point=Rs50). But since Speak Asia had very few products, many were not happy buying whatever is available on the company’s website and have had voiced their discontent on the Internet.
The MLM company came under the scanner of investigating authorities after it became known that it was promising easy income by merely filling online surveys.
Meanwhile, according to the reports, Mr Bajpai had become untraceable after he was granted bail by a Vijaywada court. Speak Asia’s chairperson Haren Kaur and CEO for India, Manoj Kumar and several other top officials are still at large.