New Delhi: The Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), probing an alleged scam at multi-level online marketing group SpeakAsia, has referred the matter to the Corporate Affairs and Law ministries for their advice.

SFIO, a multi-disciplinary organisation under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), has the mandate to probe serious financial frauds at the companies.

"...the case is pending investigation and has been referred to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs/Ministry of Law and Justice on a legal issue," SFIO said in reply to a Right to Information (RTI) query.

However, specific details were not disclosed as the investigations are continuing.

All ongoing SFIO investigations are exempt from being covered under the RTI Act, 2005, the probe agency said.

An alleged financial scam by Singapore-based SpeakAsia came to light early last year, after which the MCA had directed SFIO to look into the issue.

The members, who register with the company after paying an annual fee, are required to conduct online surveys for various clients.

According to its website, SpeakAsia is not registered as a company in India as it is not a permanent establishment (PE) here.

"The nature of business is such that legally the need for a PE does not arise as per prevailing laws in India. However to effectively support the business in India, Speak Asia is now going to open a PE in India soon...," it said on its

The company further has further claimed on its website that it has not breached any provisions of Indian law, RBI, SEBI, or any other government authority.

"However, it has come to the notice of the company through its media sources that because of the negative campaign initiated by some organisations, that RBI, SEBI, Ministry Of Corporate Affairs and PMO have initiated enquiry against the working of the company," it says.

SpeakAsia has said it welcomes such enquiry since it would help to "clear the cloud if any".

Going by the website, Speak Asia is a "unique web 2.0 company that empowers 19 lakh consumers to create and use their collective bargaining power to get unprecedented price advantages in goods and services procured through our portals".


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