NEWS18 December 2013

Indian police make further arrests in ‘pay to take surveys’ case

Asia Pacific Legal

INDIA — Senior executives of Speak Asia, a company that charged people to become survey respondents, have been arrested by police after a three-year investigation.

Speak Asia is alleged to have defrauded Rs 2,200 crores (or €260m) from Indian consumers by asking them to pay, up front, to join a research panel, with the promise of substantial returns for taking part in surveys and referring others to join the scheme.

The alleged masterminds, Ram Niwas Pal and his brother Ram Sumiran Pal were arrested in early December and late November respectively, along with Ram Sumiran Pal’s reported “confidante” Satish Pal.

In total, 18 people have now been arrested in connection with the scam. Several notable arrests were made in August 2011.

Esomar, the Netherlands-based research association that has been working with the Market Research Society of India (MRSI) to push for action against Speak Asia, welcomed the latest arrests. “The research industry relies on sound ethical practices and globally recognised standards to maintain public confidence,” said Esomar director-general Finn Raben. “Companies such as this undermine the good work that is done by market researchers, not just in India, but globally.”

Meanwhile, MRSI president Jayant Jain called on the Indian media “to help in educating the large mass of people about the highly ethical market research profession and to inform the general public that… the industry appreciates and values the participation of the consumers”.

“Genuine research agencies would at times, reward participants but would never ask for any money in any guise or under any scheme from survey/research participants,” said Jain.