Three years after they cheated nearly 24 lakh investors of over Rs. 2,200 crore on the pretext of high returns, one of the three masterminds of “Speak Asia” scam has been arrested by the Delhi police.
Ram Sumiran Pal, 37, a resident of Uttar Pradesh’s Shahjahanpur district, was nabbed from Connaught Place by a team of the crime branch led by ACP Suresh Kaushik and Inspector Ashok Kumar.
The accused had invested the money in financing a Bollywood movie that could not be produced. The lead actor of the movie, famous for his comic roles, was questioned by the Mumbai police in connection with the case in 2012, police said.
Ram Sumiran had arrived in Delhi from Dehradun where he was hiding for the past few months. He had been involved in the business of real estate along with his aide Rajesh. Police said he arrived in Delhi to meet a financer in order to buy property in Delhi.
Ravindra Yadav, additional CP (crime), said Sumiran, his brother Ram Niwas Pal and owner of a software company, Manoj Sharma, were part of several companies registered in Singapore, Italy and Brazil. One of the companies, Speak Asia - an online survey marketing company - was registered in Singapore in the name of Mrs Haren and introduced in India in 2010.
“The three introduced multi-level marketing schemes and sold web subscriptions for Rs. 11,000 each and in return the investor had to fill survey forms for certain multi-national firms for a promised annual payment of Rs. 52,000,” said Yadav.
After paying a few initial investors, Speak Asia wrapped up its operation in India around mid-2011 and senior office bearers went into hiding. During this period, the company duped over 24 lakh investors and the scam went up to Rs. 2,276 crore. At least eighteen cases were registered in Mumbai, Andhra Pardesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh.
In Mumbai, investigation of the multi-crore scam was handed over to the economic offences wing (EOW) of the Mumbai police. During investigation, Mumbai’s EOW arrested sixteen people who were part of the scam. The three masterminds, however, could not be caught.
Over 210 bank accounts containing Rs. 142 crore have been frozen so far. Another 150 bank accounts are under investigation.