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Amway India Chairman and Two Directors Remanded to 14-day Custody

Direct selling firm Amway's India Chairman and CEO William S Pinckney, an American national, and two company directors, arrested in connection with three cases of alleged fraud, have been remanded to 14 days judicial custody by a local court at Kalpetta in Kerala.



Direct selling firm Amway's India Chairman and CEO William S Pinckney, an American national, and two company directors, arrested in connection with three cases of alleged fraud, have been remanded to 14 days judicial custody by a local court at Kalpetta in Kerala.

Pinckney and directors Sanjay Malhotra and Anshu Budhraja were arrested by the Wayanad Crime Branch (Economic Offences) wing from Kozhikode yesterday in connection with three fraud cases registered in Wayanad district.

Kalpetta Judicial First Class Magistrate N Ravishankar last night remanded them for 14 days.

They were booked under the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act based on complaints filed by two persons in 2011.

The Crime Branch (Economic Offences wing) had last year conducted searches at the Amway offices at Thrissur,Kozhikode and Kannur districts as part of its crackdown on money chain activities.

Amway, for its part, said it was cooperating with the investigations of the Kerala Police CB-CID further to the complaint filed in 2012 and Pinckney, Budhraja and Sanjay Malhotra have always been present to answer any queries of the police.

"With respect to the Wayanad case of 2011 for which it is believed that arrest warrants have been issued, the company or its officials have not been issued any summons to join the investigation nor was any information sought".

"In this respect, the company management would have been happy to cooperate with the Wayanad Police in that matter as well, as we always have as a law abiding corporate citizen, following all laid down laws of the land," it said.

The Wayanad Police had received four complaints against the firm.

Although the three executives had obtained anticipatory bail in one case filed by Vishalakshi, for which they appeared for questioning, they were arrested on the basis of three complaints filed at another police station in the district.

The three complainants Jafar, T Ashraf and P Hareendran had alleged that in 2002 Amway India attempted to collect money from them with the intention to deceive them by involving them in a money-chain scheme.

Vishalakshi alleged in her complaint that Amway agents collected Rs.3.5 lakh from her for products sold by the companies and asked her to add more members to the chain.

As she could not add more members, she sought a refund but the agents refused.

Following her complaint, last year, the Economic Offences Wing of CB-CID arrested Raj Kumar, who was in-charge of Amway's Kerala operations, and seized products worth Rs 17 lakh.

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Online Retail in India to Multiply by 2.5 Times in the Next Three Years



The booming e-retail market is likely to surge over twofold over the next three years, as players will be forced to shift their focus from discounts to consolidation, geographical diversification, business realignment and enhancing customer stickiness, says a new report.

According to Crisil, going by the 2016-17 data, the e-retail market represents about 1.5% (Rs 70,000 crore) of the overall Rs 49 trillion retail sector in the country, indicating enormous growth potential.  The online shopping segment has trebled over the past three fiscal years on rising Internet penetration, awareness of online shopping as well as lucrative deals and discounts.

“E-retail market size is expected to surge 250% in the next three years,” the report said without quantifying the industry size by that time.  “After the initial phase where e-retailers focused only on gaining market share through discounts, the next phase will be characterised by consolidation, geographical diversification, business realignment, as well as enhancing customer stickiness,” it added.

Interestingly, the report noted that “a frenzied search for unicorns in the past couple of years ended badly for many investors, who saw their equity wiped out”  and resulted in about 26 prominent start-ups shutting shops in the past two years.

Crisil’s analysis of 11 major e-retail firms showed that almost 45% of the over Rs 40,000 crore invested between FY14 and FY16 was wiped off due to losses at e-retailers.

“Chastened investors are now putting money into just a handful of players that are showing sustainability and enjoy a major market share,” the report said.  “While overall funding increased by over Rs 25,000 crore in the first nine months of the current fiscal year over the previous year, the number of players funded came down 30%, underscoring the caution and sharper focus after the losses,” it added.

Crisil study on 30 companies found that funding for the top three players has increased from 40-45% of overall investments in FY14 to 76-81% in the first nine months of the current fiscal.

“The trend indicates cautious and focused investing by investors with an eye on profitability,” the report said.  “The industry is now 8-10 years old and is moving from the startup phase to more consolidated phase. Going forward, funding will only get more concentrated with big-ticket players getting the bulk of the pie. Niche players will get funding, but in bits and pieces,” it added.

Crisil also found that the e-grocery, which has lately seen an uptick in the number of players and investor interest, is likely to be the next big online segment following apparel, mobile phones.

Online grocery is to be the fastest growing segment with an average growth rate at 65-70% between fiscals 2017 and 2020, while the revenues may quadruple over the next three years to Rs 100 billion.

The growth in the segment would be driven by investments in technology, new strategies adopted by players such as introducing private labels, same day and next day delivery as well as B2B food services.  “In the overall food retail industry, the penetration of online food and grocery stands at a minuscule 0.1%, indicating significant growth potential,” the report said.

Investments in the high-volume, low-margin segment rose over seven times in the first nine months of FY18 to Rs 20 billion, as niche players like BigBasket and Grofers were forced to fight with biggies like Amazon and Flipkart, apart from brick-n-mortar players like D-Mart, and Reliance Retail sharpening focus.

Meanwhile, noting that online customer base remains largely concentrated in major cities, the report said faster growth will slow down in these regions as it is already highly penetrated and players would need to move into small towns to sustain growth.

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REFORM: Govt Approves Private Participation in Commercial Coal Mining



In one of the biggest reforms in the mining sector, the government has approved private and international participation in commercial coal mining. The move is likely to augment availability of coal and act as a major catalyst for the industry.

The government has initiated one of the biggest reforms in the mining sector. Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved private and international participation in commercial coal mining. The move is likely to augment availability of coal and act as a major catalyst for the industry. The decision was taken at the Cabinet meeting under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Union Cabinet also approved 130 km long Jeypore-Malkangiri New Line project at a cost of Rs. 2676.11 crores. It will help in combating the left wing extremism through development in the districts of Malkangiri and Koraput. It will also improve connectivity to important towns, including Koraput, Jeypore, Jagdalpur, Dantewara and will result in short lead to many places in Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh.

Union Cabinet also approved Bill to ban illicit deposit-taking activities; Bill provides for severe punishment and heavy fines for those raising illegal deposits.

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Three More PNB Officials Arrested



The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking deportation of Punjab National Bank fraud accused Nirav Modi, on Friday.

A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud today said, the bench will hear the matter on Friday.

The PIL sought Nirav Modi’s deportation within two months for his alleged involvement in the syphoning off Punjab National Bank money to the tunes of 11,400-crore rupees.

It sought immediate and strict action against those PNB and Reserve Bank of India officials involved in the fraud case. The PIL also sought new guidelines for the big loans.

Three officials of Punjab National Bank’s Brady House branch in Mumbai were arrested on Monday in connection with the 11,400 crore rupees fraud by diamond merchant Nirav Modi.

Meanwhile, ED raids continued for the fifth straight day at 35 locations on Monday.

The agency has so far seized diamonds, gold jewellery and other precious stones worth Rs 5,716 crore in the case and summoned Modi and Choksi, the promoter of Gitanjali Gems, to appear before it on February 23 at its Mumbai zonal office.

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