QNet, the controversial multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme, has cancelled V-Con, its high-profile, flagship annual event that was scheduled to be held in Dubai between 8th to 12th September. The company has not given any reason for the sudden cancellation of V-Con, but thousands of independent representatives (IRs) or agents who were set to go to Dubai are seeking a refund the $350 each that they have paid to attend the event as well as their air tickets.
On its Facebook page
, QNet says, “Due to circumstances beyond our control, unfortunately, we had to make the difficult decision to postpone V-UAE 2018.
This has not been easy for us. But we realise that proceeding with the convention under these circumstances would compromise the quality of the event.”
QNet does not mention what these 'circumstances’ were, for cancelling its prestigious event. According to sources, the V-UAE 2018 was cancelled after Saudi Arabia declared QNet as haram and activities of the MLM company as ‘misleading activity’. On 1 September 2018, the ministry of corporate Affairs in Saudi Arabia issued a warning against QNet saying that its activities are prohibited in the country.
The Ministry of Commerce and Investment in Saudi Arabia says
after investigation, it arrested a group of four persons one from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a Saudi citizen and two Saudi women. "The defendants were involved in the coordination and making the necessary arrangements for QNet activities, such as reserving hotel halls and sending invitations to clients to attend the training on QNet marketing activities. Upon raiding the site, MCI inspectors found 20 members of both sexes attending the training, as per the invitation given to them by the four organizers. It has been found out that the attendants have paid more than Saudi Riyal (SR)200,000 in cash or as a remittance to the organizers' bank accounts. This is beside paying SR30 for each attendant," the MCI says in a release.
Network marketing activities are prohibited in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as per the Ministerial Decree, issued by the MCI, which stipulates the prevention of network or pyramid marketing, as well as the advertisement or the promotion for such illegal trade activity, or by any other means. This is in addition to the Ministerial Decree issued by the Ministry of Interior, which stipulates that the financial fraud issues are considered crimes punishable by arrest, the release says.
In an email response, Zaheer K Merchant, director for corporate affairs at QNet, says, “As stated in the Facebook post you referenced, we had to make a decision to postpone the event due to circumstances beyond our control. You will note that several other large events were cancelled or rescheduled in Dubai in recent months, including the Dubai International Film Festival. We have no further comment here.”
From India alone, there were about 10,000 independent representatives (IRs) who have booked flight tickets to Dubai and also bought tickets at $350 each for the V-Con event.
Several IRs, who paid money and booked tickets for the V-Con, are left in a lurch since they cannot get any refund. Instead, QNet is asking them to swap the V-UAE 2018 ticket with V-Malaysia 2019 or get the refund through their Quest account.
Talking about refund to IRs, Mr Merchant says, “As for those who have bought tickets to the convention, we are working with the different groups on either validating their ticket for future events or processing refunds if that's what they want.”
Earlier in April this year, QNet organised its V-Malaysia, where Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor shared the stage with Pathman Senathirajah, an accused and absconder in cases registered in India. The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Mumbai Police also had issued a look out notice against Mr Pathman.
Mr Kapoor has been a regular since past few years at V-Con organised by QNet. Last year too he was there on V-Con and shared the stage with Mr Pathman and Vijay Eswaran, the chief of QNet and absconder in several cases filed against the MLM in India.
During the V-Con 2016, QNet says, besides Mr Kapoor, other Bollywood actors such as Jackie Shroff and Vivek Oberoi “went up on the V-Con stage in 2016 to share how they took the big leap to be where they are today.”
Commenting on the presence of Bollywood celebrities at V-Con, Mr Merchant from QNet, says, “...they were only invited speakers at our events. You may contact their respective offices for further comments.”
This year's V-Con, as the event is popularly known among QNet IRs, was scheduled to be held at Hamdan Sports Complex in Dubai, UAE.
Last month, the Supreme Court of India accepted a writ petition filed by Financial Fraud Victims Association against Vihaan Direct Selling Pvt Ltd, which is franchisee of QNet in the country.