Economy
Rupee slips below 60-mark in early trade

This is the first time since 27th June that the domestic currency has fallen below the 60 level

The rupee on Wednesday fell by 37 paise to again slip below the 60 mark to 60.03 against the dollar in early trade at the Interbank Foreign Exchange market, on heavy dollar demand tracking strengthening of the US currency overseas.

 

This is the first time since 27th June that the domestic currency has fallen below the 60 level. The rupee had touched an all-time low of 60.76 against the dollar on 26th June.

 

Forex dealers said besides dollar gaining against other currencies to trade at nearly one-month high in the global markets on strong economic data, a lower opening of the domestic equity market also put pressure on the rupee.

 

The rupee had depreciated by 14 paise to close at 59.66 against the dollar yesterday on defence-related dollar demand losses in the local stock market.

 

Meanwhile, the BSE benchmark Sensex fell by 211.54 points, or 1.09%, to 19,252.19 in early trade today.

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MLMs continue to dupe investors under ‘guaranteed returns’ from forex trade

Kerala Police have arrested two persons in connection with a forex racket which has duped over 60 investors of several crores of rupees, while, at the same time, employees in Chennai have escaped

While the rupee has been grabbing headlines of late, what is little known or reported is that a multi-level marketing (MLM) company under the guise of foreign exchange trading, Wismore Trading and Investment Consultancy Pvt Ltd (Wismore Trading), has defrauded more than 60 hapless investors of several crores of rupees, by promising them lavish returns, since 2011. The company’s officials, Antony Devassia and K Jaikuttan, have been arrested by the Kerala police, according to The Asian Age, which reported the news. It is also reported, by Manorama News, that Wismore International India Pvt Ltd (Wismore International) has closed down and the employees escaped upon hearing the news of the arrests. These two episodes clearly show regulation, or lack of it, has once again failed to protect Indian investors and savers, and that smaller companies that fly under the radar are capable of robbing investors and savers of their hard-earned money.
 

According to the Asian Age, the Kerala police acted when it received two complaints from investors who had collectively lost Rs110 crore investing in Wismore Trading. The company’s modus operandi is similar to that of most MLMs and companies, which give ‘guaranteed’ returns. It supposedly, promised investors lucrative returns, of as much as 10%-15%, in exchange of large investments. It even paid initial investors regularly for at least three months to attract more savers. The money collected was deposited in another firm Wismore Trading FZC operating out of Ajman Free Zone in Dubai on the basis of fluctuations in currency value, reports The Asian Age.
 

What is more shocking is that the Tamil Nadu police have not taken any action because no official complaint has been filed in the state yet, even though they are aware of what happened. According to Manorama News, it is believed that employees of Wismore International escaped in three cars.
 

It is also interesting to note that the hoarding at the Wismore International office in Chennai has “Nirmal Bang” written in a larger typeface than Wismore. Moneylife wrote to Nirmal Bang seeking confirmation of whether the broker was indeed connected to Wismore International, in any capacity. We have not received any reply so far.
 


Apparently, according to Wismore International website, it is a ‘registered’ forex trading company based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), a well known offshore country where millionaires and crooks stash their money. No legal details could be found though.
According to the Wismore International website, the company has two branches, one in Dubai and one in Chennai. However, according to Times of India, a preliminary police probe has revealed that the Wismore International had operations in various parts of the country under different brand names. Wismore Trading is one such entity that could be related to Wismore International.
 

A quick glance at Wismore International website  clearly shows that the company doesn’t look genuine. It even describes itself as a consumer-friendly company. For instance, Wismore International’s vision is to “Provide Healthy Products and Services with Life Changing Results” while its mission is to “Provide a Safer Platform for Forex Trading Solutions”. The company goes a step further describing its USP by using positive adjectives: “The USPs of Wismore are Transparency, Trustworthiness, Sincerity, Integrity, Experience, Promptness and Ethical Responsibilities.” Many financially illiterate investors usually fall for rosy descriptions like the ones described above.
 

It doesn’t stop here. In a similar case, the Peramangalam police arrested noted Kerala industrialist MK Kuruvila of Bangalore. He was arrested following a complaint lodged by Bijeesh, a native of Aamballoor, for swindling money from him, says Indian Express in a report. According to the Peramangalam police, Kuruvila had swindled Rs45 lakh on several occasions by saying that he would return the money after doubling it through foreign exchange trade and commodity trading. However, Kuruvila’s true intention came into lime light when he did not return Bijeesh’s money on time and did not answer his calls.
 

Kuruvila is accused of duping several people making them deposit money in his company called Pan Asia Brokers and Consultancy Pvt Ltd, a company registered with the ministry of corporate affairs.  The police said that several other cheating cases were also registered against him at various police stations in the state. Sunil, a native of Amballur in Thirssur, had filed a complaint with the Pudukkad police against Kuruvila for cheating him of Rs52.35 lakh in the same manner.
 

Unfortunately, the state of regulation in India is in a mess. Savers often have to rely on police complaints to take action, especially after they have lost money. This isn’t the first time the police have unilaterally taken action on the basis of complaints. Moneylife had written about how the Andhra Pradesh police took action against unsafe and shady MLMs. The story can be accessed here: MLMs to face scrutiny by FIPB following action by Andhra Police

Reported by: Aditya Govindraj and Anishi Khetan

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COMMENTS

MOHAN

3 years ago

NIRMAL BANG needs to clarify. SEBI must order probe.

RTI Judgement Series: Information which is more than 20 years old should be provided

Rejecting the PIO's claim for exemption under Section 8(1)(d) & (e) of the RTI Act, the CIC said, since the information was over 20 years old, it should be provided. This is the 126th in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application

The Central Information Commission (CIC), while allowing an appeal, directed the Public Information Officer (PIO) of Bank of India to provide information about public provident fund (PPF) records that were over 20 years old. The PIO had claimed exemption under Section 8(1)(d) & (e) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

 

While giving this judgement on 29 July 2009, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, “The Commission as well as all PIOs have to follow the provisions of the RTI Act and cannot on their own start deciding disclosure of which information would be good for society.”

 

Kandivali (Mumbai) resident Jignesh V Thakkar, on 4 June 2010, sought details of PPF accounts with the bank relating to the 10 year period between 1 April 1979 and 31 March 1989 from the PIO of Bank of India, under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Here is the information he sought and the reply given by the PIO...

 

Details of PPF accounts for all branches under the jurisdiction of the Bank of India which have completed the initial investment period i.e. 15 years (or completed the extended period) for which the maturity amount is not yet claimed or intimation of further extension is not yet received. The details are required for the 10 financial years i.e. from 1 April 1979 till 31 March 1989. The details wanted were:

a. PPF account number

b. PPF account holder's name

c. Complete postal address of the account holder

d. Contact numbers of the account holder

e. Email address of the account holder

f. The date on which the PPF account matured

g. The amount payable to the account holder
h. If such PPF account holder is also holding a savings bank account in the branch then the complete name, address, contact numbers of the person who has signed as introducer for the savings account
i. Details of the steps taken to contact the account holder to inform about the PPF maturity

 

PIO's reply: The information sought falls under the exemption provided under Section 8(1)(d) & (e) of the Right to Information Act and also it would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individuals. Thereby the request for information is rejected.

 

Not satisfied with the PIO’s reply, Thakkar then filed his first appeal. In his order the First Appellate Authority (FAA), while upholding the PIO's decision said, “The information sought is third party individuals and is of commercial confidence in nature. The said information is held by the bank under fiduciary relationship and relates to personal information. Therefore, the said information being exempted under section 8(1)(d), (e) & (j) of the Act cannot be supplied to you (Thakkar).”

 

Thakkar then approached the CIC with his second appeal. In the appeal, he stated...

 

1. The First Appellate Authority did not provide the details of the procedure for the second appeal.

2. “The information which is 20 year old can be denied only under sub-clause (a), (c) & (i) of section 8 and no other sub-section. Hence the denial of information under section 8(1)(d) & 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act is not allowed.”

3. Failure to comply with the guidelines issued by the Government of India—Guidelines issued by Government of India, Ministry of Personnel, P.G. and Pensions Department of Personnel and Training dated 25 April 2008 for the officers designate as the first appellate authority under the RTI Act 2005 clearly states that the information can only be denied under clause (a), (c) & (i) of Section 8. Therefore information cannot be denied under section 8(1)(d), 8(1)(e) & 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act.

4. Failure to provide speaking order—from the appellate order—it is evident that the first appellate authority has completely ignored the clear guidelines issued by the Government of India based on observation of CIC.

5. Existence of Public Interest – “It is important to emphasis that as the matter pertains to public money, definitely there exists ‘larger public interest’.”

 

During the hearing through video conferencing, Mr Gandhi, the then CIC noted that the PIO has denied information about PPF accounts with the bank claiming exemption under Section 8(1)(d) & (e) of the RTI Act. In his appeal, Thakkar, the appellant, argued that since the information was 20 years old, as per the provisions of Section 8(3) of the RTI Act, he should be provided the information.

 

Section 8(3) of the RTI Act states,

“Subject to the provisions of clauses (a), (c) and (i) of sub-section (1), any information relating to any occurrence, event or matter which has taken place, occurred or happened twenty years before the date on which any request is made under Section 6 shall be provided to any person making a request under that section:”

 

Mr Gandhi noted that it was clear that the exemptions sought for non-disclosure by the PIO are not covered under clauses (a), (c) & (i) of sub-section (1) of the RTI Act.

 

The PIO stated that disclosure of such information could lead to some misuse of the information.

 

Mr Gandhi said, “The Commission as well as all PIOs have to follow the provisions of the RTI Act and cannot on their own start deciding disclosure of which information would be good for society.”

 

The PIO also stated that PPF Act, 1968, and the Scheme there under this information cannot be disclosed. 

 

Section 20(2) of the RTI Act clearly states,

“The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923, and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act.” 

 

Mr Gandhi said, as far as disclosing information is concerned the RTI Act supersedes provisions of all earlier Acts.

 

“The Commission does not accept the plea of the PIO for refusal to give the information under Section 8(1)(d) &(e) of the RTI Act since the information is over 20 years old and the provisions of Section 8(3) of the RTI Act will apply in the instant case,” he said.

 

While allowing the appeal, the CIC directed the PIO to provide the information sought to the appellant (Thakkar) before 25 September 2011.  

 

CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION

 

Decision No. CIC/SM/A/2011/001324/SG/14256

http://rti.india.gov.in/cic_decisions/CIC_SM_A_2011_001324_SG_14256_M_65458.pdf

Appeal No. CIC/SM/A/2011/001324/SG

 

Appellant                                            : Jignesh V. Thakkar,

                                                                 Kandivali (E), Mumbai -400101

                                                                       

Respondent                                       : Shivram Naskar

                                                              PIO & Dy. GM

                                                              Mumbai North Zone,

                                                             Bank of India

                                                             Bank of India Building, 2nd Floor,

                                                            Opp. Natraj Market,

                                                            SV Road, Malad (W)

                                                           Mumbai- 400064

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COMMENTS

SOMASUNDARAM

3 years ago

Sir,
Unnecessarily delayed to give an PF number to me.My PF cheque has become invalid date. Hence, I have personaly suffered in monetary level.
Our official said that they have procedures to give new PF number.
Therefore,Through RTI, I demand issue copy of the employees applications (20 yrs before)who were demand for new number.
Now Official reply that the more than 20yrs record cannot be given and also cannot be given the individual records.(which I was not asked Individual record & I asked only any 5 of the PF number applied staff)
Hence whethere their reply is correct.

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