The EOW of Mumbai police is keeping a strict vigil on several sites that promote and help in communication for several MLM and ponzi schemes
The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Mumbai Police has geared up its vigilance on several multi level marketing (MLM) companies and syndicates that are operating from the city. Apart from investigating schemes like Speak Asia, which have already duped investors, EOW is also tracking the websites and blogs publishing information about many other MLMs.
According to the sources, EOW is carefully assessing various schemes which are promising easy and high income. The department is even encouraging its official to attend seminars organised by MLM and ponzi operators so that they would understand the modus operandi of these fly-by-night operators.
“Many officers from our department are attending such (MLM) seminars, posing as investors. This is a part of the preventive action, so that at least part of the money could be tracked if the scheme collapses and there will be leads in the investigation,” said a Police official who does not want to be named.
EOW is also keeping a track of several websites and blogs used by MLM agents and operators for spreading information and luring more people into their net. For instance, an officer explained, a MLM review site, behindmlm.com, first revealed that Speak Asia has restarted its business in Brazil under a different name. EOW learned about it after the website contacted the investigating agency. “EOW is keenly watching all such websites,” the sources said.
Behind MLM revealed that Speak Asia resurfaced in Brazil under the new name ‘Mister Colibri’, with a similar business model. Mister Colibri also names Manoj Kumar, the absconding chief executive of Speak Asia, as one of its largest investor.
Speak Asia duped around 23 lakh investors to the tune of Rs2,000 crore by promising weekly income, merely on filling online survey forms. Initially the company paid money to its panellists but stopped all the payments since May 2010. After complaints were lodged against the company, it came under the scrutiny of EOW, Mumbai.
Subsequently the investigating agency arrested Speak Asia’a chief operating officer (COO), Tarak Bajpai and along with few other employees. Later, on 30th September, EOW arrested Speak Asia’s financial consultant Sanjeev Dandona and Nayan Khandor, a Mumbai-based Web designer responsible for designing e-surveys. It was revealed that the survey, which the company used to send to its panellist were designed in Mumbai itself and not in Singapore as claimed by Speak Asia.
Later, Mr Bajpai, was granted bail on a cash surety of Rs3 lakh and was asked to furnish personal sureties within eight weeks. He was also asked to present before the investigating officer every week.
However, an officer close to investigation says, Mr Bajpai failed to full fill any of the conditions and now EOW has moved to Mumbai Session Court to cancel his bail.
Recently Moneylife reported that all the material such as computers, laptops, CDs, hard disks, seized during the arrest of the various officials and associates of Speak Asia, has been sent to the forensic laboratory for a scientific analysis.
GAIL is taking the lead and there is a possibility that at least two other firms including ONGC may join it in bidding for Gujarat Gas
State-owned Indian Oil Corp, ONGC, GAIL and Oil India Ltd, besides Adani Group, are interested in buying BG Group's stake in Gujarat Gas Ltd but find Rs4,000 crore asking price too expensive.
Gas utility GAIL, explorers ONGC and Oil India, besides fuel retailers Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum, have shown interest in buying BG Group's 65.12% stake in India's largest natural gas distributor by sales, industry sources said.
Other firms interested include Adani Group and Gujarat State Petroleum Corp (GSPC) but Cairn India is not keen. Sources said the public sector firms are keen on forming a consortium to jointly bid for the stake in Gujarat Gas that sells gas to about 325,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers through a pipeline network of about 3,850 km in Gujarat.
GAIL, which is the largest city gas player in the country, is taking the lead and there is a possibility that at least two other firms including ONGC may join it in bidding for Gujarat Gas.
Sources said GAIL however is finding the valuation being proposed for the 65.12% stake as too high. If feels Rs 4,000 crore that is being quoted for the stake was 16 times the expected Rs 250 crore net profit of Gujarat Gas and eight times an asset replacement ballpark estimate of between Rs 400 and 500 crore.
There is a possibility of Adani Group bidding with IOC. The two firms had bid together for city gas licences. Alternatively, Adani may go with GSPC, with whom it has a working relationship.
BG Group has hired Citigroup Inc to advise on a potential sale of its stake in Gujarat Gas Co Ltd (GGCL).
Sources said while the state-owned firm see synergy in acquring GGCL as they either have produce natural gas or are its retailers but Cairn may not be interested as the company's business model is completely different.
Cairn believes in high risk, high reward ventures and gas retailing is not on its radar currently. Besides GGCL, BG also holds a 49.75% stake in Mahanagar Gas Ltd, which sells CNG and piped gas in Mumbai.
Sources said BG has not yet put MGL stake on offer but may decide to do so after GGCL. BG has already exited from all but one exploration asset in the country. It is left with just one exploration block in Krishna Godavari basin and has a 30% interest Panna/Mukta and Tapti oil and gas field with ONGC (40%) and Reliance Industries (30%).
On Thursday, IOC closed at Rs252.90 per share on the Bombay Stock Exchange, 0.08% up from the previous close.
Tata Motors Vice-Chairman Ravi Kant said: "We are maintaining the break-even timeline as far as numbers are concerned, we are on line."
Admitting that Nano has 'wasted an early opportunity' due to teething problems, Tata Group chief Ratan Tata today said Tata Motors will do everything to undo the tag of 'poor man's car'.
In an interaction with media here, Tata, who is also the Chairman of Tata Motors, said: "Many efforts were made to discredit the product. We never pushed it (Nano) as a poor man's car, but as an affordable family car. Whatever stigma is there in the market, we will undo it."
When asked about the problems Nano has faced, like the fire incidents and the recent replacement of starter motors, Tata said the issue was mainly due to various parts coming from different vendors.
"Current upgrade should help resolve the problem... upgrade will resolve issue relating to problematic supply from vendors. Upgrade will also resolve the earlier issues and also take in customer feedback. We will look at variants of models to move up the value chain," he said.
Asked about the break-even timeline for the Nano project, Tata Motors Vice-Chairman Ravi Kant said: "We are maintaining the break-even timeline as far as numbers are concerned, we are on line."
On a query on whether Tatas will go back to West Bengal again, Tata said: "I do not think our position has changed...As and when the hostilities are over and (if) we get an amicable reception, we will think of it."
On Thursday, Tata Motors closed at Rs201.55 per share on the Bombay Stock Exchange, 0.55% up from the previous close.