The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police recently issued a lookout notice against former world Billiards champion and Padma Bhushan awardee Michael Ferreira. The notice was issued after Ferreira failed to appear before the EOW in connection with the Rs425-crore scam allegedly committed by a multi-level marketing firm QNet, in which he is said to have shares.
Notices have been issued against six other company officials too, police sources said. Additional commissioner of police Niket Kaushik said, “We had summoned him for questioning three weeks ago but he did not turn up. This is a precautionary measure so that they don’t leave the country till investigation into their role is complete.”
A lookout notice is a circular issued against a person when s/he is wanted by the police either for questioning or arrest in any case. It is circulated at all immigration checks at international borders (international airports or sea ports). As soon as the person is spotted, the authorities concerned are notified.
In the second week of December, the EOW had served summons to 75-year-old Ferreira, directing him to appear before them to answer questions about his association with the scam-hit company. The EOW has arrested nine team leaders of QNet so far for allegedly duping investors by offering to sell magnetic disks, herbal products and holiday schemes, among other products, 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.
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. The police on Thursday said they did not know if Ferreira was back in Mumbai or still abroad.
The winner of the World Amateur Billiards Championship had also described the allegations against him of defrauding people through QNet as “outrageous, malicious and untruthful”.
“The company has a booklet of goods and services with offers to customers. Then where is the question of anyone defrauding anyone? Leave alone me!... 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 added. He had also sought to know how the company had defrauded anybody.