Lookout notice issued against Michael Ferreira in QNet scam

Written by PTI | Mumbai | Updated: Jan 3 2014, 01:10am hrs
Mumbai Police today issued a lookout notice against former world Billiards champion Michael Ferreira after he failed to appear before them in connection with the Rs 425-crore scam allegedly committed by a multi- level marketing firm QNet, in which he claimed to hold shares.

"The look out notice was issued against Ferreira in connection with QNet case. We had summoned him for questioning three weeks ago but he did not turn up," a senior police officer told PTI.

In the second week of December, the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the city police, probing the QNet scam, had served summons to 75-year-old Ferreira, directing him to appear before them to quiz him about his association with the scam-hit company.

The EOW has arrested nine team leaders of the QNet so far for allegedly duping investors by offering to sell products like magnetic disks, herbal products and holiday schemes through fraudulent practices.

QNet has also been accused of using the banned binary pyramid business model for their multi-level marketing (MLM) schemes to entice investors. The accused have been charged with cheating and forgery under relevant sections of the Prize, Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act 1978.

The lookout notice is a circular issued against a person when he/she is wanted by police either for questioning or for the purpose of arrest in any case.

It is circulated at all immigration checks at international borders (like International airports or sea ports) and as soon as the person is spotted, the authorities concerned are notified.

Ferreira, who was abroad on December 17, had said he would appear before the investigators as soon as he returns to India. He had also defended the controversial company.

Police today said they did not know if the Padma Bhushan awardee was back in Mumbai or still abroad.

The winner of the World Amateur Billiards Championship had also described as "outrageous, malicious and untruthful" the allegations against him of defrauding people through QNet.

"The company has a booklet of goods and service with offers to customers. Then where is the question of anyone defrauding anyone, leave alone me How I defrauded anyone. Customers, who are interested in the products, can buy. If not, then no need to buy. I have not approached anyone and forced anyone," he had said.

Explaining his association with QNet, Ferreira had said, "a good friend of mine from Hong Kong told me about the online company (which) wanted to open a franchise complying with local laws in India for the purpose of goods and service (it offers). "They asked me to be a shareholder and I said yes. I saw it as a great business opportunity. I have no operational responsibility for setting up the company and I am just a shareholder."

He had also sought to know how the company defrauded anybody. "How they (the company) defrauded anyone Where is the question of defrauding, I just cannot understand this. Please appreciate the fact that this is like any other company that has products at its disposal which it offers to customers. And if the customer chose to buy, then where is the question of defrauding"

Meanwhile, in response to allegations made against QNET and its local franchisee, its spokesperson (India) Ajay Chanam said, "The situation surrounding QNET in India and in Mumbai particularly appears to be some form of orchestrated sustained attack on the company to undermine our reputation and prevent us from competing fairly and openly in India."

"The manner in which an alleged unmerited claim of fraud, which itself has not and cannot be substantiated on the face of the FIR itself, has been used to arrest a number of IRs and freeze assets, does not bear up to scrutiny. We are confident that as true facts emerge authorities will also see this clearly - as a calculated attack on QNET and take appropriate action against those responsible for scheming this at the first place," Chanam said in a statement.

He said that QNET was carrying out its own independent internal investigations and was making rapid progress in understanding the true circumstances and motivations in this 'corporate raid'.

"We will take immediate and strong legal action against those who have sought to harm the company and its affiliates and will pursue the parties for damages wherever we find due cause," he added.