Police in Koforidua have arrested sixty(60) independent representatives (IRs) and workers of online networking marketing company -Qnet dissolved by Court for operating a Ponzi scheme in Ghana.
The IRs and their recruits were arrested in a swoop conducted in Trom, Two-Streams, Bornya, and other parts of New Juaben South where they operate surreptitiously in rented apartments.
It follows complaints by residents that the continuous operation of the company have become a threat to security increasing burglary and pilfering cases.
The residents said many victims from neighboring West African nationals and Ghanaians scammed by the company become stranded forcing them to engage in thievery to survive.
In 2021, Starr News Eastern Regional correspondent Kojo Ansah investigated the operations of the company after hundreds of victims were defrauded and abducted by the company.
A young man who identified himself as Elvis Nelson Ayittey -Manager and Qnet Independent Representative explained that to be registered as an Independent Representative, an individual must buy a form of at least Ghc100 and pay at least Ghc4,200 for the purchase of a product online and additionally pay Ghc400 hostel fee.
He demonstrated that an Independent Representative could get an initial commission of $225 for the first month and as high as $76,725 monthly commission after four years of joining the network marketing company and referring others onboard the company.
Some West African nationals mostly Togolese, Nigeriens, and Burkinabes were deceived to pay huge amounts to be recruited into Cocobod, mining, and football clubs only to be kidnapped and camped in rooms, mobile phones taken away, and forced to use same deceptive means to bring other victims until they gain their freedom.
In 2022, the Commercial Division of the Accra High Court ordered the dissolution of Quest Net Limited (Q-NET) for engaging in dishonest, illegal, and fraudulent business activities.
The decision followed a petition filed by the Attorney-General (A-G), Godfred Yeboah Dame, seeking the dissolution of the network marketing company for operating in a manner akin to a Ponzi scheme.
Despite the petition and all hearing notices and documentary evidence duly served on Q-NET, the company failed to enter appearance and did not file any answer to the petition.
In a judgment dated July 20, 2022, the court, presided over by Justice Jennifer Abena Dadzi, upheld the arguments made by the A-G.
The court also restrained the directors, members, and officers of the company from exercising any powers that pertained to the running of the company under the then Companies Act, 1963, Act 179, under which Q-NET was incorporated, according to a Daily Graphic report.
The court further granted the A-G an order to appoint the Registrar of Companies, in her capacity as Official Liquidator, to exercise the powers of a liquidator, including managing the assets of Q-NET pending the making of a winding order by the court.
“In this regard, the money obtained by the respondent from its activities represents proceeds of crime and I find that the failure of the respondent to explain the nature of its activities and what it was doing with the money so collected from the public, short of laundering the money, is itself indicative of the company operating in an illegal or inherently objectionable manner,” the court held
Daily Graphic also published that, in the petition filed under the Corporate Insolvency and Restructuring Act, 2020 (Act 1015), Section 84 (1) of Act 1015, the A-G said investigations by the National Security Council Secretariat disclosed that Q-NET operated in a manner akin to a Ponzi scheme by luring clients to make deposits and investments with the company, which they eventually lost.
Mr Dame indicated that Q-NET mainly operated in the Ashanti, Western, Eastern and Ahafo regions and engaged in various “fraudulent schemes”, such as inviting the public to buy products for outrageous and non-existent profits.
The petitioner averred that to become a member of the false schemes put in place by Q-NET, the company required prospective subscribers to purchase various online items for various sums ranging between GH¢5,000 and GH¢15,000.
He further said investigations indicated that Q-NET also took money from people with the false representation that the company could help them find jobs.
“The respondent lured unsuspecting members of the public to pay about GH¢5,000 for the purpose of placing them in various jobs which turned out to be a hoax,” the petition added.
After taking the money, the A-G said, the company would orchestrate the arrest of its victims who tried to make noise about its “fraudulent activities”.
Alleged money laundering
Mr Dame further contended that the activities of Q-NET were mostly dominated by Nigerians, Burkinabes, Ivorians, Malians, and Togolese who laundered the proceeds from their illegal activities.
“The widespread criminality and illegality in which the respondent is being operated has grossly undermined its existence in the Ghanaian community,” he added.
He said investigations showed that Q-NET was part of Quest International, also known as the QI Group, located in Hong Kong and operating in many countries.
However, he said, owing to its “illegal activities”, the company had been banned in the USA, Canada, Australia, Rwanda, Iran, Sri Lanka, Syria, Afghanistan, and Cote d’Ivoire.