FORMER WORLD Billiards Champion Michael Ferreira surrendered before the Mumbai sessions court Friday, in connection with the QNet cheating case. Ferreira, however, told the court that he was a “mere shareholder” in the Hong Kong-based marketing franchise and was not involved in misleading and duping investors.
He further told the court that he had attended the company’s programmes abroad, not for sales of its products but to inspire people as a former sportsperson.
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Ferreira had to surrender after the Supreme Court rejected his anticipatory bail last week.
Senior counsel Amit Desai, along with advocate Sandeep Karnik who represented Ferreira, told the court that the 78-year-old had not received any commission or dividends from the company.
A Special Investigation Team of the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai police is investigating the complaints of customers alleging that they were duped in the multi-layered marketing schemes through a master franchise of QNet.
The EOW through special public prosecutor Pradeep Gharat sought Farreira’s custody claiming that as the 80 per cent shareholder of Vihaan Direct Marketing Selling Limited, Ferreira was a member of the conspiracy.
“The prosecution’s case is that Vihaan Direct Marketing had misled people through false representation. Ferreira was not involved in sales, he did not earn any commissions or dividends. The talks he gave were inspirational and not to sell products under the scheme. He is a well-regarded, respected sportsperson. He is 78 and tomorrow (on Saturday) is his 79th birthday,” Desai argued, stating that Ferreira had made himself available to the EOW and had given statements to the investigators. He argued that Ferreria’s police custody was not required for the investigation.
Special Judge DP Surana of Maharashtra Protection of Interest of Depositors court, however, sent Ferreira and two others — Malcolm Desai and Maganlal Balaji — who had surrendered on Friday, to police custody till October 13.
“Custody is necessary for investigating agencies in financial scams to confront the accused with information already furnished, oral statements made during interrogation and to confront them with other arrested accused,” the judge said, while granting police custody.
The case was registered on an initial complaint made by Oshiwara resident Gurpreet Singh Anand with allegations of the multi level marketing firm, Qnet, having collecting at least `400 crore by enrolling 30,000 investors who paid at least `1.5 lakh upfront as part of the scheme. The firm began by selling a range of products, including bio disks that claimed to provide miraculous cures for diseases like cancer and long-distance learning. Buyers were made individual representatives and charged with getting new customers for the company.