Tarak Bajpai, chief operating officer of Speak Asia has been arrested by the Economic Offences Wing of the Mumbai police.
Bajpai, who is the most prominent face of the online survey company's India operations, was arrested under Indian Penal Code for cheating and conspiracy and Sections 3, 4, and 5 of the Money Circulation Act.
Arrest of Bajpai comes after the Bombay high court had a discussion with the Additional Commissioner of Police Rajvardhan Sinha in response to a public interest litigation demanding action against the management of Speak Asia.
Originally registered in Singapore, Speak Asia does not have a single office in India.
Though not legally registered in India, the company, in the recent past had built a client base of over 19 lakh (1.9 million) members.
How Speak Asia operates
The company requested users to enroll with Speak Asia's online survey by paying an initial amount of Rs 11,000.
The members are supposed to
For every form filled and submitted the client was paid Rs 200, for two forms they received Rs 1,000.
The company promised that in four weeks the client would be paid Rs 4,000 and in 12 months about Rs 48,000. However, for the past two months none of Speak Asia's members has received any compensation.
All the transaction with the client - to and fro were online and account to account.
Few companies -- like ICICI and Bata -- that Speak Asia claimed had given them surveys to be conducted have completely denied having ever contacted the company.
All financial transactions were conducted by agents in their personal capacity, and not by any member of the management.
There is a growing suspicion that the company was taking money from one member and paying it off to another.
Suspicion that the money was internally circulated arises from the fact that there is a three-month time lag for recovering the original subscription amount paid by a member.
Bajpai was arrested on Friday morning from Indore.