The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai police on Tuesday filed a 55,000-page chargesheet against former billiards champion Michael Ferreira and 29 others in connection with the Qnet scam case three years after the case was filed in 2013.
The charge sheet was filed in a special court set up under the Maharashtra Protection of Interest of Depositors In Financial Establishments (MPID) Act and contains statements from 400 witnesses and several other documents that alleges that hundreds of people were cheated by the company.
The EOW said Ferreira and his associates were running and operating an illegal money circulation scheme under the name of QNET. Investigations showed nearly five lakh investors from across the country were duped in the scam. QNET has been accused of using the banned binary pyramid business model for their multi-level marketing (MLM) schemes to lure investors.
The agency alleged Ferreira, a key accused, joined the company much before 2008, and went on to become an 80% shareholder in one of the group of companies, Vihan direct selling. Ferreira is in judicial custody.
“The chargesheet is primarily based on the complaint of Gurpreet Singh Anand, who was approached to become a whistleblower. The key accused in the case and mastermind of the scam is Vijay Eswaran of the QI Group headquartered in Hong Kong. Eswaran is still absconding,” said special public prosecutor Pradeep Gharat.
Gharat said the QI group of companies first came up with the marketing company Quest in India. “As there were many cases in several parts of India, they started operating under the name of Quest Net. When cases were registered against Quest Net in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, Ferreira joined the groups, which was later launched into three more companies — Transview private ltd, Vihan direct selling and Vanmala hotels Pvt limited,” Gharat added.
On the group’s method, Gharat said, “It was binary pyramid business model that is banned in India. The independent representatives would approach a person with their products — ranging from bio-discs, watches, herbal products and holiday packages. The consumer can only take the product if they add more people under them as independent representatives and the chain would continue. In this, the independent representative gains a hefty commission, whenever a member is added.”
The prosecution had stated the accused had cheated many people in the case. They had promised returns of more than Rs5 crores. “They promised huge returns, for which customers were asked to invest between Rs3,000 to Rs7 lakh. In this, Ferreira earned crores. We are still getting complaints,” Gharat said.