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Indian police arrest top online survey firm’s officials

Indian police have arrested two top officials of Singapore-based online survey company Speak Asia in Mumbai for allegedly duping investors out of US$294-million.

Police identified those arrested as Tarak Bajpai, Speak Asia’s chief operating officer in India, and financial manager Ravi Khanna, according to the Press Trust of India (PTI) and other media. Two web technicians were also held.

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The suspects were arrested “in connection with a financial fraud”, said joint crime police commissioner Himanshu Roy, according to the Times of India.

Roy told PTI the company had allegedly told investors they would get 54 000 rupees (US$1 221) a year in return for investing 11 000 rupees annually, cheating investors out of 13-billion rupees (US$294 million).

Speak Asia is a Singapore-based online survey company which pays its members to take part in surveys for their clients. The firm claims to have more than one million people in India participating in its surveys.

Its bank accounts in India have reportedly been frozen.

The accused appeared at a Mumbai court on Friday and were remanded in police custody until 4 August, Roy was quoted as saying by PTI and other media.

Speak Asia said in an emailed statement that it had “always offered complete and total cooperation to all authorities about its functioning and methodology.”

“This sudden development has shaken us up as it puts a blot on our integrity and promise to the millions of people who are part of Speak Asia,” Manoj Kumar, India chief executive officer, said in the statement.

“We are absolutely clean,” a company representative said, speaking on condition of anonymity. He declined further comment.–AFP

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