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ED attaches Rs.101 crore bank balance in Speak Asia case

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached over Rs.101 crore worth of bank balance in connection with its money laundering probe in the Speak Asia online marketing scam case.

The central probe agency had registered a criminal case against the firm, its officials and few others in 2012 under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). “The attached assets are bank balances in the accounts held by the firm and others. The agency considers them the proceeds of crime. The total amount under the latest attachment is about Rs. 101 crore,” sources in the agency said.

The said attachment can be challenged before the Adjudicating Authority of PMLA within a time period of 180 days. An attachment under anti-money laundering laws is aimed to deprive the accused from the benefits of his or her ill-gotten wealth.

The Singapore-based firm is being probed by the ED and other agencies for allegedly defrauding about Rs. 700 crore worth funds of investors. The case came to light in 2011 when the Mumbai crime branch registered a criminal case against the group and its various entities in India and abroad. The police probe had claimed to have found that Speak Asia promoters had started an online marketing survey company in March 2010. It then asked investors to deposit Rs. 11,000 and fill survey forms of some multinational firms and on successful submission of surveys, they were promised Rs. 52,000 in return.

Initially the company paid the investors back but later it wound up its business, duping investors, the police and ED probe had found. The company is alleged to have duped over 24 lakh investors and the amount of scam has been pegged at Rs. 2,276 crore.

According to the police complaint, Speak Asia had allegedly remitted over Rs. 900 crore to Singapore. The money was sent from India to the banks in Singapore and from there to Dubai, Italy and UK. However, the money came back from UK again to UAE (Dubai) and to India.

The Mumbai Police had also filed a charge sheet in this case in 2013 and apart from ED, the Serious Frauds Investigation Office (SFIO), under the corporate affairs ministry, had also investigated the case.

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