I Trust QNet in conversation with renowned sports icon Michael Ferreira who has been made the prime target in the malicious allegations on the QNet organization in India…
ITQ: Being a national sporting hero and to now be tainted as a ‘criminal’ would have come to you as a shock. How has the three years been since you have found yourself fighting this legal battle?
MF: Having led a long and circumspect life not only in sport and in the corporate world but also in social service (I was a two term member of the National Committee for Social & Economic Welfare), the last 3 years have been an absolute nightmare. It is as if someone had hit the ‘pause’ button in my life. I wait and pray for the pause to lift as I am sure it will be. There is a God above who is watching and who will protect us from the evil unfolding before our eyes.
ITQ: Since the allegations have broken out has the goodwill you shared as a public figure diminished or do you believe that people still look up to you irrespective of the allegations?
MF: Hitler’s Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels used to say that if you repeat a lie – the bigger the better – often enough people will believe what you say. Obviously there are gullible folk who fall into the Goebbels trap and believe what is repeated ad nauseam in the news and in the social media. These people have looked askance at me since the lurid headlines first appeared in 2013. I have suffered the affront to my character and integrity with as much quiet dignity as I could muster. Thankfully however, there is a vast majority of friends and business associates who know me and what I stand for and who therefore refuse to believe all the rubbish out there. I am immensely grateful to them and to my family whose love and support have enabled me to smile through this turbulent period of my life. I also want to repeat the words of Sir Galahad: My strength is the strength of ten, because my heart is pure.
ITQ: Do you see the attack on your company and the global brand QNet you represent as an act due lack of guidelines to regulate this Direct Selling sector in the nation or due lack of understanding of the government authorities of the Direct Selling business in India?
MF: At the outset please understand that when you refer to ‘my’ company, I am only a shareholder of Vihaan which is a sub-franchisee of QNet. Secondly, I personally do not represent the global brand QNet. Thirdly, I whole- heartedly agree that this scurrilous attack against Vihaan and QNet stems from the lack of a proper regulatory structure governing the direct selling industry. The attack on me personally is because I am well-known and represent a convenient peg on which to hang their vicious hat. In addition to everything else, the police have their own interpretation of the industry, unsupported, I might add, by any legal decision. They take and have taken coercive actions against hapless citizens on the basis of their interpretation. Who can prevail against the might of the police machinery vested with such extraordinary powers?
ITQ: The allegations against you, your company and the brand you represent QNet is of being a ‘financial terrorist’, ‘a fraud’ and ‘a money launderer. Do you agree with these allegations and if not what do you think are the reasons for these allegations and what are your answers to these allegations?
MF: The allegations of financial terrorism and money laundering are so ludicrous that they make me want to laugh and cry at the same time. All I can say is these dramatic and wildly speculative allegations have been and are being made without a shred of evidence. I believe they are prompted by a desire to extort money and/or perhaps to benefit some business rival lurking behind the scenes.
ITQ: Vihaan Direct Selling is a franchise of QNet is that the correct business arrangement? In its previous avatar a company linked to QNet – Questnet faced a similar backlash in South India, do you see the devil past coming back to haunt?
MF: Vihaan has no previous avatar and its only connection with QNet is as a sub- franchisee.
ITQ: What really is QNet business model? There are so many different opinions about it? I want to hear from you as being a franchise of the brand in India?
MF: The model is simple really. Vihaan has a bouquet of goods and services (products) which it offers customers. When there is a sale of these products through an existing satisfied customer to third parties, the said existing customer gets a commission. You sell products you earn commission. End of story.
ITQ: As franchise of the QNet brand, do you buy the products directly from the vendors or do you buy the products from QNet globally? What is this particular business arrangement between vendors, Vihaan and QNet that has led the authorities to doubt money-laundering and siphoning of funds?
MF: Vihaan’s product supplier is a company called Transview Enterprises. It would require an extraordinarily warped, creative and ill- motivated imagination to construe payments to Transview for products supplied as siphoning off funds or money laundering. Let the courts decide if there is any money laundering instead of dishonest people making wild and speculative statements without a shred of evidence.
ITQ: Do you find QNet as a victim of being a Direct Selling company in India or do you find QNet as a victim because it is one of the fastest growing Direct Selling Company in India?
MF: A little bit of both.
ITQ: The company has also been alleged to have violated the tax laws governing this country? How do you react to these allegations?
MF: I presume you mean Vihaan is so accused. The concerned “hands on” people have told me that Vihaan has scrupulously adhered to the laws of the land, not only in taxation but in other areas as well. In fact they are perfectly comfortable with a forensic audit of Vihaan’s accounts. That would indeed put paid to all the absurd allegations in the public space.