Amway's CEO's Doug DeVos and Steve Van Andel have published an open letter to the India Government:
Amway India's CEO Bill Pinckney was arrested on May 26 at Amway's headquarters in Gurgaon. At the time of this writing, he remains in police custody. This continued detention and harassment must end. Amway is a reputable company with 55 years of operating legally and ethically in more than 100 countries and territories worldwide.
And while the newly elected Union government in New Delhi played no role in this police action, we ask their help with the immediate release of Bill so he can be quickly and safely return to his family. To continue with this investigative retention when we have fully cooperated with all investigations and requests from authorities in India – including Andhra Pradesh – is unnecessary and unreasonable.
Whenever our business model has been questioned, we have shown up to provide answers. We have made every effort to be entirely transparent and forthcoming with authorities. If there is a problem, we want to fix it so we can continue to do business in India.
The underlying issue at hand is the lack of clear direct selling regulations that distinguish legitimate businesses like Amway from dishonest ones.
Additionally, provisions of the Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act seem to be misapplied against Amway. An amendment to this Act – or even new legislation – is something we have been working toward for some time.
Hopefully, these recent events call greater attention to the immediate need for fair and balanced direct selling legislative guidelines. Fortunately, the newly sworn in Modi government's probusiness agenda is actively working to create an environment that will welcome foreign direct investment. This makes us hopeful we will be able to collaborate with them to find solutions that work for everyone.
With similar situations in other markets in the past, we have successfully worked alongside government officials to resolve issues and we feel confident we can do the same here.
Since opening in 1998, we have seen firsthand the potential this market holds. Amway India has grown into one of the top 10 global markets for the company, selling more than 140 high quality products – most of which are manufactured in India. We employ close to 500 people and have more than 550,000 distributors across the country. Our philanthropic efforts in India have helped nearly 100,000 children including visually challenged students in need of educational and vocational tools.
Amway is not alone in seeing the opportunity in India. The World Federation of Direct Selling Associations brought industry CEOs to India earlier this year to learn about doing business here. They too saw this potential firsthand and left feeling excited about their prospects for the future. Events like this however, may cause them to rethink investing in the Indian market.
Despite the challenges we currently face, we remain firmly committed to doing business in India. We will not abandon the hundreds of employees and hundreds of thousands of distributors who are working to build businesses for themselves and their families. In fact, we will continue to expand our investment in India in many ways. This includes a new USD $100 million state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Tamil
Nadu. Our goal is to help Indian citizens reach their potential through a business of their own. When we say we're committed to their success, we mean it.
To be clear, our top priority is the immediate release of Bill. We will continue to answer any questions any person may have about our business. And we stand ready to work with India's new Union government to develop clearer direct selling legislative guidelines to ensure events like this never happen again.
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