Will Speak Asia refund money to all panellists?
Moneylife Digital Team 11 February 2012

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.


Parnaw Sharma
3 years ago
paise vapas kab milenge
pardeep kumar
4 years ago
Pass kab miliga
Sachin Sahoo
4 years ago
Sir please refund my money.ido.nt refund .I have one 1id only.plz I am so poor.
hema vajpai
4 years ago
I have invested 44k in my school life from my and my sister's saving,pls tell me if any way to get my money back .pls let me know it is possible.
hema.bajpai0[email protected]
4 years ago
Sir u r having so many work but i m having only these money to start up my life so pla kind me and return my money back its a huge amt for me 100000
4 years ago
Sir pls give my money back
4 years ago
Sir pls kuch to sochiye kuch to reply kariye itne sal mene santi rakhi par ab sir mere hath se cheze nikalti jarahi hai . Me court ke chakar me nahi pad sakti meri itni thakat nahi hai muze bas mere paisa vapas dedo 100000 rs hai sir mere liye bahoot bad amt hai . Kuch to kare
4 years ago
Sir aaj thak mene aap logo pe vishwas rakha mera paisa milega par sir aab muze mere paiso ki bhahhot jayada zaroort hai . Ye mere liye marne , jine vali condition ho jayegi . Agar 1 month me muze mera paisa vapas nahi mila to mete liye to marna hi doosra option bachega or uska sara blame speakasia par hi hoga
4 years ago
Hello sir pls return some of my money back its really i need it . It if my life n death ka case ho jaye ga
4 years ago
I dont know about all this i m from a middle family i have starterd my own suits business with very hard work and i invest all of my money in speakasia its around 100000 rs which is my whole income which i lost in it my whole business get closed . I try many times but I didn’t get any replay from any source , i really beg of please if u help me n give back my money which i need it badly the money was of my child future study . I request if i get half of the amount i will be very greatfull to u pls its my request pls sir return back my money as soon as possible my contac no is 9425059992 . If u help me of this i will b very thank ful pls sir think of it
DrBirjesh Kumar
5 years ago
i want mony back 20000rs my contect no 9411674398
G Pal
5 years ago
Six years have elapsed since SpeakAsia disappeared with panelists money and all. I lost 22k, but what breaks my heart is the two panelists under me who lost 11k each. I hope I will be able to compensate them in some way or the other. Do not expect the present govt of BJP to do anything about it as it is more interested in looting the public on some pretext or the other like increase in excise duty and other State taxes on motor fuels while international prices are falling.
arun rawat
5 years ago
MY MOBILE NO IS 9650560759
Ravindra Thapa
5 years ago
I want my money back...

My no. 7895399044
Santhosh Sandy
5 years ago
I want money back for my all panelists, could you please tell me how to refund money ?? My
Mobile no 9750855660
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