India police 'arrest Singapore firm's officials'

MUMBAI, India, July 30, 2011 (AFP) - Indian police have arrested two top officials of Singapore-based online survey company Speak Asia in Mumbai for allegedly duping investors of $294 million, reports said Saturday.

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 and other media. Two web technicians were also held.

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 the Press Trust of India the company had allegedly told investors they would get 54,000 rupees ($1,221) a year in return for investing 11,000 rupees annually, cheating investors out of 13 billion rupees ($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.

There was no immediate comment available from the Mumbai police or from lawyers representing the suspects on Saturday. Emails to the company's offices in Delhi and Singapore were not immediately responded to.

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

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