The Mumbai police issued a Look out Circular (LOC) against former world billiards champion and Padma Bhushan awardee Michael Ferreira, for his alleged role in a multi-crore marketing scam.
According to the police, a Hong Kong-based multi-level marketing (MLM) company QNet Ltd, through its Indian franchise Vihaan Direct Selling (India) Private Limited, floated a scheme duping its investors by using the banned binary pyramid business model. The firm accepted investments between Rs.30,000 and Rs.7 lakh and in return offered to sell its investors bio-discs, watches, herbal products, holiday packages, etc., with the promise that they will yield spectacular returns.
Mr. Ferreira is alleged to be a shareholder in the Indian franchise. Based on the complaint made by an investor Gurpreet Singh in August last year, a case was registered against the company for cheating and criminal conspiracy under the IPC and under relevant sections of the Prize, Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act 1978. So far nine people have been arrested by the Economic Offences Wing of the Mumbai police which is investigating the case. As a part of the probe, QNet offices in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai were raided.
“All the products are sham products that were sold to cover illegal money flow of the company. They sold me a product claiming that it was a bio-disc having healing properties. Mr. Ferreira holds an 80 percent stake in the Indian franchise and therefore his role should be probed in detail,” Mr. Singh told The Hindu.
In December 2013, the EOW had summoned Mr. Ferreira to appear before the agency but he failed to do so.
“We have served summons in the past but Mr. Ferreira has failed to present himself before us and therefore a LOC has been issued,” said an investigating officer.
This means that the billiards player faces the possibility of an arrest when he lands in the country or tries to leave the country. A LOC is issued against a person when he is wanted by the police, either for the purpose of questioning or an arrest in any case.
The company has been banned twice in the past by India but has managed to operate under different names like GoldQuest, QuestNet, QNet, QI Ltd and QI group, the police said. QNet has also been banned by Iran, United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Sudan, Turkey and Syria.