William Scott Pinckney, 64, managing director and chief executive officer in India of Amway, one of the largest direct marketing companies, moved the Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday, after being denied the permission to visit abroad by the Chandigarh chief judicial magistrate because of a pending case of cheating against the company.
Taking up his petition, Justice Paramjeet Singh, while issuing notice of motion to the Chandigarh administration, directed it to file its reply within a week.
The petitioner has sought permission to visit the US from June 22 to 29 and setting aside of the Chandigarh chief judicial magistrate's orders dated May 6 and June 5 denying the permission. He informed the court that he had to visit the US to attend important meetings at the Amway's world headquarters in ADA, Michigan, to discuss further capital investment in India.
The petitioner and co-accused Prithvi Raj Bijlani were earlier granted anticipatory bails by the additional district and sessions judge, Chandigarh, on April 18.
Why magistrate denied permission?
The magistrate had observed that since the petitioner was not an Indian citizen, there was every likelihood that if the permission was granted, he might flee from justice. The magistrate also observed that the meetings could be held over telephone or through video-conferencing. Also, the magistrate said that as per the stand taken by the state, the petitioner had not joined the investigation.
However, the petitioner stated that he had been working with the company in India for the last 15 years and meetings over telephone or video-conferencing were not always secure and as the meetings were to be held with multiple persons, it could even lead to miscommunication and misinterpretations.
The case against Amway
An FIR was registered against Amway by the economic offences wing at Sector-26 police station, Chandigarh, on December 2, 2002, under Sections 3 and 4 of the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978, on the basis of complaints. The investigation agency presented a challan against the company on August 28, 2012, also under section 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code. Thereafter, the investigation agency had filed three supplementary challans in the case. As per the petitioner, around 900 Amway distributors had joined the investigation. The charges in the case are yet to be framed by the trial court and the next date of hearing is July 26.
Recent arrest of Amway CEO in Kerala
On May 27, Wayanad (Kerala) crime branch (economic offences wing) had arrested William Scott Pinckney and two other directors of the company, Sanjay Malhotra and Anshu Budhraja, from Kozhikode in three different fraud cases registered against them. They were remanded to judicial custody by the Wayanad court on May 27. However, on May 28, they were granted conditional bail by the Kalpetta chief judicial magistrate. All the three were charged under section 420 (cheating) of the IPC and sections 3 and 4 of the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978.
What is Amway?
Amway deals in direct selling of products related to personal and home care, nutrition and wellness and cosmetics. As per the petitioner, the company has annual global sales of approximately Rs 62.75 crore (US$ 11.3 billion).