|wholly owned subsidiary|
|Founded||Hong Kong, 1998|
QNet ltd, formerly known as QuestNet, GoldQuest, and QI Limited, is a Hong Kong based direct selling company owned by the QI Group. The company sells a variety of products including energy, weight management, nutrition, personal care, home care, luxury goods, and fashion accessories. QNet was founded in Hong Kong by Vijay Eswaran in 1998. It promotes its products on its website using claims "that would not pass official muster in much of the world." Eswaran serves as a motivational speaker to those selling Qnet products, holding sessions that feature "lasers, dry ice, [and] pyrotechnics".
The company's marketing strategy follows a direct selling and multi-level marketing model, depending on independent representatives to refer its products to consumers and receive compensation based on the sales volume of their referrals and the sales volume of other independent representatives in their teams who are arranged in a binary fashion. They also use "an aggressive campaign" of newspaper ads and lawsuits to shut down bad word of mouth.
It has offices in some Asian countries such as Indonesia, Philippines, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Taiwan and Vietnam and franchise companies in India and Turkey and it also operates or has operated in other countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Côte d'Ivoire and Rwanda. Egypt, India, Iran, Indonesia, Nepal, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, and Turkey sued QNet for allegedly operating a product-based pyramid scheme. The company denied wrongdoing, and The Philippine and Indonesian courts dismissed cases against it. As of 2014, India is still investigating the company and its franchise Vihaan as well as having arrested nine directors and others involved under its FIR.
QNet, the main subsidiary of the QI Group, was founded in Hong Kong by Vijay Eswaran in 1998. The company, first known as GoldQuest, made custom-commissioned numismatic coins. It first diversified in 2002, into travel and vacations, with a partnership with QVI Club brand holidays. In 2005, QI Group acquired QI Comm, a British telecommunications company In 2006, it began marketing energy, health, and nutritional products, and also the Bernhard H. Mayer brand of watches. That same year, QI Group acquired Prana Resorts and Spa, a vegetarian holiday resort in Koh Samui. In 2007, the QI Group acquired Down To Earth (DTE), a vegetarian organic health store chain in Hawaii.
The company's marketing strategy is based on a multi-level marketing model which depends on a group of independent representatives who refer its products to consumers and receive compensation based on the sales volume of their referrals and the sales volume of other independent representatives in their teams who are arranged in a binary fashion.
Many governmental entities have described QNet's business model as a simple pyramid scheme: early entrants earn money, and as the number of Independent Representatives (IRs) increases, finding more IRs to join becomes difficult or impossible; IRs that join late do not earn enough to cover their first outlay and the model collapses.
The compensation plan operates by the recruitment of customers by existing IRs. An IR is provided an ID that gives access to a 'Tracking Centre' (TC) in its system that tracks sales. A TC has a left and right customer group. A 'direct' transaction (a customer's personal reference or sale) is counted as one transaction. An 'indirect transaction (someone in the customer's TC buys/refers/sells) is also counted as 1 transaction. The company pays $250 each time 3 product sales on an IR's left customer group are matched by 3 product sales on the right.[unreliable source?]
Under the names GoldQuest and QuestNet the company primarily sold gold collectible coins as an investment item.
The Amezcua Bio Disc (also spelled BioDisc and BioDisk) is one of the company's products. QNet claims that the Bio Disc can "redefine and harmonise the energy of water, greatly maximising its positive affect on the human body". These and other claims relating to the product have been denounced as fraudulent by various scientists, media commentators and watchdogs. Critics have noted that the claims are based on pseudoscientific concepts such as hexagonal water and that they have never been validated by peer-reviews.
||This article's Criticism or Controversy section may compromise the article's neutral point of view of the subject. (September 2014)|
Australian Politician Cameron Thompson, the Nepalese Home Ministry, the Sri Lankan Central Bank, and the Iranian Government have described GoldQuest as a pyramid scheme. In 2002, the Australian Office of Consumer and Business Affairs listed the company as one of 61 alleged pyramid schemes.[better source needed] The Nepalese Home Ministry banned the company from operating in Nepal in 2003, and Bahadur Manandhar, chief of the foreign exchange department of the Nepal Rastra Bank, said GoldQuest was “a hundred percent fraud.” The Sri Lankan government banned GoldQuest in 2005, claiming that the company had caused 15 million dollars to leave the country. In 2005, the Iranian government also banned GoldQuest, after prosecutors found that company activities had “led to the exit half of a billion dollars from Iran.”
In 2007, APLI, the direct selling Association of Indonesia, called GoldQuest a pyramid scheme, and Interpol arrested Vijay Eswaran and other company officials for fraud. QNet responded that the allegation is unfounded. After three weeks, Indonesian courts released Vijay Eswaran and dismissed the charge soon afterward. QNet continues to operate in Indonesia.
In 2008, around 3000 people marched on the presidential palace in Kabul to demonstrate against the government's temporary withdrawal of QuestNet's license to operate in Afghanistan. The business started in Afghanistan with around 600 IRs in 2006 and had expanded to 21,000 when the government temporarily withdrew the license to enable it to write operating laws.
The Rwandan Government's Ministry of Finance banned QuestNet in 2009 for violations of company and tax laws after The National Bank of Rwanda described the company as a pyramid scheme which "is collecting money from subscribers in Rwanda and sending it outside to companies called Park King Development and DBS Hong Kong using swift transfer." Minister James Musoni ordered Questnet and its IRs to immediately stop all activities. Questnet appealed and was granted relief on condition that it follow the country's laws in the future.
Also in 2009, the Sudanese government banned QuestNet after allegations were made relating to poor product quality and the and non-receipt of products. After the shut down, another agent wanted to renew Questnet's contract in the Sudan, but the government refused. The same year, the Syrian ministry of economics shut down QuestNet for violating its commercial registration. Ramzy Asawda, Director of Facilitation and Trade Efficiency in the Syrian Ministry of Economy, stated QuestNet had operated a pyramid scheme in Syria, withdrew billions of Syrian pounds from the country, and paid few taxes in return. The shutdown also applies to other agencies of the company.
In 2010 Questnet opened in Turkey with 150 distributors; 80 of which police detained in an investigation that charged 42 with gaining an unfair advantage. In 2011, the Turkish Trade Ministry investigated QNet following complaints that it was a rebrand of Questnet. The Ministry also revealed that Quest was fined TL3.64 million(USD 1.9 million) for its illegal activities in 2010. In 2011, QI Group resumed operations in Turkey with the acquisition of the Dögan Hotel in Antalya.
The governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia. Indonesia, and India have accused QNet of operating a product-based pyramid scheme. Dar al-Ifta issued QNet a Fatwā in 2012 stating its business in Egypt is haram (forbidden under Islamic law) and could harm the country’s economy. In 2010 the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Commerce and Industry banned Qnet, accusing the company of theft, falsification, and failure to register, and warned citizens to avoid involvement in fraudulent schemes, mentioning QNet specifically.
In August 2013, the Economic Offenses Wing (EOW) of the Central Bureau of Investigation of India made the first arrest in a case which began in India in 2008. Members of the company were arrested for cheating and were remanded into police custody until August 22. EOW sent teams to Bangalore and Chennai to investigate fraud linked to Vijay Eswaran, considered the prime accused in the QNet case. Six of Qnet's bank accounts were frozen as part of the case. QNet has advocated for the regulation of Indian multilevel marketing companies and for the banning of pyramid schemes in India.
Donald Frazier, a writer for Forbes who focuses on Asian businesses, said in 2012 that the charges against Qnet "tend to originate in apocryphal, anonymous or debunked sources". Frazier was dismissive of financial journalist Sucheta Dalal who had denounced QNet's practices in India as illegal. In 2014 the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police filed a First Information Report against QNet and its Indian subsidiary Vihaan and barred them from holding workshops and training sessions. In early November, a man was arrested for violating this restriction and the coffee shop chain Café Coffee Day barred QNet representatives from all its shops in Mumbai.