- The company conducted MLM business in the name of social media
- It also launched illegal virtual wallet, laundered money earned from advertisements
- The two key accused are now absconding in Canada
ringID, a Ponzi scheme-based social media company which is currently entangled in two cases over defrauding its subscribers, has illegally invested Tk33 crore that it bagged by fraudulence in the country's capital market, so finds the Cyber Police Centre of the Criminal Investigation Department.
The company with its two subsidiaries – Ring ID BD and Ring ID Distribution – made the illegal investment with the help of three securities companies – Santa Securities, RNI Securities and Vertex Stock and Securities.
The CID unearthed the irregularities after a long investigation and analysis of data provided by the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit, officials familiar with the matter told The Business Standard.
"We have completed preliminary investigation on the company under the Money Laundering Prevention Act, 2012. After reviewing the information, we recently [on 4 August] lodged a case with Gulshan Police Station over money laundering of the amount of Tk37.49 crore," CID Sub-Inspector Md Al Imam told TBS.
"A detailed investigation will reveal all the information about ringID's illegal investment," he added.
The accused in the case are the managing director of ringID Md Shariful Islam and his wife Ayrin Islam, who is also the chief executive officer of the company, and director Md Saiful Islam.
Shariful Islam and his wife are currently absconding in Canada, police said.
According to the case statement, the accused committed the irregularities by using some of its shell companies.
For example, they transferred Tk4 crore to an account named "Naturescape
Limited" with Woori Bank's Karwanbazar branch. Of the amount, Tk3.5 crore was later transferred to Shanta Securities for stock investment.
Another amount of Tk3.14 was transferred to an account named "Adored Estate Development" with the same bank, out of which Tk1 crore was re-transferred to Shanta Securities and Tk2 to RNI Securities.
In another transaction, ringID illegally transferred Tk6 crore to the account of "Adored Trading and Construction Limited", of which Tk1.5 crore and Tk4 crore were later transferred to Vertex Stock and Securities and RNI Securities respectively.
Police said they also found evidence of ringID's direct transfer of Tk35 lakh to the account of "Reverie Engineers" with an intention of embezzlement.
According to the CID, the company would lure customers to open Silver ID, Gold ID, Pravasi (Expatriate) Gold ID and Pravasi (Expatriate) Platinum ID with investments of Tk12,000-50,000 for each account. The account holders would see a certain number of foreign advertisements per day using virtual private networks, widely known as VPNs, and receive profits in return.
Although there was a legal obligation to bring that money to the country, ringID did not do so, the CID said, adding that the foreign currency earned by ringID users was illegally transferred to foreign banks instead of bringing it to the country.
Moreover, the ringID app also offered virtual coin trading through an e-wallet on its video streaming platform. The CID, however, could not find any information regarding authorisation for the company to conduct such transactions through virtual wallets.
ringID top officials were earlier sued by one of their aggrieved users on 30 September 2021 in a case filed with the Bhatara Police Station under the Digital Security Act and Multi-Level Marketing Control Act. The case is currently under investigation.
Earlier, on 28 December 2016, the CID arrested Ayrin Islam and her husband Shariful Islam and sent them to jail, following a case filed by the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission.
Apart from ringID, the couple also owned Cloud Tel Limited, an Interconnection Exchange (ICX) operator, and Vision Tel Limited, an International Gateway (IGW) operator. Both worked with international and domestic voice calls.
Allegations were raised against them that they ran international calling businesses through the companies but did not pay the yearly licence fees, profit share and late fees amounting to over Tk240 crore to the BTRC.