New Delhi: The Corporate Affairs Ministry has indicated that completion of the probe into alleged scam at SpeakAsia could take more time due to legal hurdles.

The Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), under the Ministry, is probing the alleged irregularities at Singapore- based multi-level marketing company SpeakAsia.

In response to a Right to Information (RTI) query on the issue, the Ministry said the time frame for completing the SpeakAsia probe is yet to be quantified.

"Investigations into the affairs of the company SpeakAsia Online Pvt Ltd is not yet complete and due to various legal issues involved in conducting investigation of a foreign company having operations in India, the time frame for completion has not been quantified," the Ministry has said.

As of now, there is no clarity on whether it has the powers to probe irregularities of a company, which is registered overseas, but has operations in India as well.

The investigation agency is awaiting clarifications on the issue from the Corporate Affairs and Law Ministries.

SFIO, set up to probe corporate frauds under the provisions of Companies Act, began investigations into SpeakAsia after an alleged scam came to light early last year.

The agency takes up only those cases that are referred by the Corporate Affairs Ministry.

Under the existing Companies Act, there is no clarity on whether Indian authorities have powers to probe an overseas entity having operations in the country. However, this issue has been addressed in the new Companies Bill, which is likely to be discussed in the Parliament soon.

In the new Companies Bill, clause 228 provide powers for authorities to look into affairs of overseas companies having operations in India.

As per the Bill, "This is a new clause and seeks to provide that the provisions relating inspection or investigation under Chapter XIV shall also apply mutatis mutandis to inspection or investigation of foreign companies".

Chapter XIV is related to inspection, inquiry and investigation of companies. According to its website, SpeakAsia is not registered as a company in India as it is not a permanent establishment (PE) here.


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