Friday, September 16, 2011

Customs seize 1st Speak Asia import worth Rs100 crore

The Customs have seized the first import consignment worth over Rs100 crore of the Singapore-based online survey company Speak Asia after police investigations revealed that the import licence contained the wrong address. The address was actually that of a pizza shop in Andheri (East), revealed police sources.

The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Crime Branch arrested six persons in the case, including Chief Operating Officer (CEO) Tarak Bajpai and Rajiv Mehrotra, head of information technology of the company, in July this year.

According to EOW sources, the first consignment of Speak Asia, containing electronic appliances like washing machines and LCD TVs, arrived from China a month ago. The consignment was over Rs100crore in value with a tax of Rs14crore. “When we checked the company’s address mentioned in the licence, it turned out to be a pizza shop in Marol area of Andheri (East),” said an EOW source, requesting anonymity.

He added that this information was shared with the Customs department, who then seized Speak Asia’s import consignment at Nhava Sheva port in Raigad district. “Speak Asia officials claimed that they had been selling electronic appliances under the brand name of YUG, which they said was a Germany-based company. In fact, the goods imported were manufactured in China,” added the source.

Another interesting fact that has come to light is that the company was conducting camps in several rural areas of the country and has allegedly duped several villagers in their multi-level marketing fraud. “Company officials would conduct camps in rural areas, first targeting public leaders or the sarpanch, and convince them to invest in their companies. Subsequently, villagers fell in their trap and invested their hard-earned money,” said another EOW officer.

He added that the company had conducted 200 rural camps in one year, even reaching far-off northeastern places like Tinsukhia and Dibrugadh. In Raigad too, the company had convinced several villagers to invest.

“We have seized two Mercedes cars, office space at Andheri and Goregaon, and two flats in Versova of accused Manoj Sharma. Tarak Bajpai’s bank accounts, personal accounts and a few properties have also been seized.
Friday, Sep 16, 2011
Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

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