In news out today, Amway India CEO William Pinckney and two company directors, Sanjay Malhotra and Anshu Budhraj, have been arrested, charged, and remanded in custody for 14 days. This continues a pattern of what can only be called police harassment in the Indian states of Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. Details have been hard to come by, but the charges apparently result from 4 complaints lodged against Amway in the Wayanad district of Kerala. Amway had reportedly been aware of, and co-operating with police regarding one charge, but the arrest resulted from three other complaints. According to the Times of India, the known charge was from a 2011 complaint and –
Vishalakshi alleged 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
3.5 lakh rupees is over US$6500!!! I’ve been unable to discover when this offence was alleged to have occurred, but clearly this is pretty bizarre, and if true it’s clear some Amway business owners (including, I would suggest, this woman!) have seriously abused the Amway business model.
Amway was apparently dealing with this issue and had already received “anticipatory bail” for the executives. The current arrests are apparently related to new complaints. And that’s where it get’s really bizarre –
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.
This “offence” allegedly occurred more than a decade ago (!!!) and indicates that someone merely “tried” to collect money and deceive them. Yes, that’s right – three company executives of a multi-billion dollar multi-national award winning company have been arrested and thrown in jail because three people claim that, more than a decade ago, someone tried to recruit them in to Amway, and they believe Amway is illegal and in violation of the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Scheme.
Sorry, India, but this is shameful.
Indian contacts have suggested to me that the problem may be that Amway India is not corrupt and refuses to pay the bribes that local officials typically demand. Corruption is, unfortunately, rife in India, with most Indians reporting they have had to pay bribes to officials (including police) in order to get normal tasks completed.
Amway India IBOs should keep the story of Amway Korea in mind. In 1993, David Ussery, general manager of Amway Korea, was arrested, interrogated, and then held in jail for a week, with various allegations made against Amway. Eventually the charges were dismissed, and today, Korea is Amway’s third biggest market. In 2011 the Korean Government named Amway one of the 30 most successful foreign companies in the country.
update: sources tell me the Amway executives have been granted bail