₹6,600cr bitcoin-based Ponzi scam: ED will attach assets worth ₹150 crore of businessman Raj Kundra | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times

6,600cr bitcoin-based Ponzi scam: ED will attach assets worth 150 crore of businessman Raj Kundra

Apr 20, 2024 02:33 AM IST

ED in Mumbai attaches assets worth ₹97.79 crore of businessman Raj Kundra in a money-laundering probe linked to a ₹6,600-crore bitcoin-based Ponzi scheme.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) in Mumbai has provisionally attached assets worth 97.79 crore belonging to businessman Raj Kundra including a Juhu flat in Shilpa Shetty’s name, amid a money-laundering probe linked to a 6,600-crore bitcoin-based Ponzi scheme. According to ED sources, Kundra allegedly received 285 bitcoins, valued at around 150 crore, from the deceased mastermind Amit Bhardwaj for a failed Bitcoin mining project in Ukraine. The agency suspects Kundra’s involvement in the scam and plans to attach assets worth 150 crore.

ED attaches Raj Kundra's properties worth <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>98 cr, Juhu flat in the name of Shilpa Shetty in Mumbai. (Hindustan Times)
ED attaches Raj Kundra's properties worth 98 cr, Juhu flat in the name of Shilpa Shetty in Mumbai. (Hindustan Times)

Apart from the Juhu flat, the agency on Thursday said it provisionally attached a bungalow in Pune and his equity shares. When HT contacted Prashant Patil, the advocate of Kundra and his wife Shetty, he said, “We shall follow the due process of law and take necessary steps as prescribed under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act to protect the liberty and property of my clients. On the face of it, there is no prima facie case made out against my clients Mr Raj Kundra and Mrs Shilpa Shetty Kundra. We have complete faith in the Honourable Judiciary.” Patil said, “I believe when we make our fair representation before the Enforcement Directorate, even the investigation agencies may grant justice to us. We have faith in a fair investigation. We stand committed to cooperating with the authorities as and when required.”

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Patil added, “According to my client, Raj Kundra, he did not get any bit-coin at all from the accused, as has been alleged.”

EXCLUSIVE | Shilpa Shetty-Raj Kundra's advocate on their assets being attached by ED: There is no prima facie case

ED’s attachments were done as part of its probe into the alleged 6,600 crore Bitcoin-based Ponzi scheme operated by a Singapore-based firm, Variable Tech Pte Ltd. Kundra is under the ED scanner for allegedly being a recipient of a part of the proceeds of crime in the case, also known as the Gain Bitcoin Ponzi Scam. Bitcoin is a convertible virtual currency, but not a legal tender in India, and its mining refers to the method used by bitcoin and other crypto-currencies to produce new coins and to examine new transactions.

The ED’s probe revealed that Variable Tech Pte Ltd had allegedly collected 80,000 bitcoins worth 6,606 crore (as per 2017 rates) from gullible investors across the country, including Maharashtra, by promising high returns. The collected funds were then diverted through nine firms located abroad for purchasing overseas properties, and investors allegedly never received their returns.

The ED launched an investigation based on multiple cases filed by the Maharashtra and Delhi police against Variable Tech Pte Ltd and its promoters, including the late Amit Bhardwaj, Ajay Bhardwaj, Vivek Bhardwaj, Simpy Bhardwaj, Mahender Bhardwaj, and several MLM agents. Allegations state they collected approximately 6,600 crores in the form of 80,000 bitcoins from the public, promising a 10% monthly return. However, investors’ funds were purportedly misappropriated, with bitcoins concealed in obscure online wallets. The agency attached properties worth 69 crore, filed a chargesheet in June 2019, acknowledged by a Mumbai special court on February 14, and conducted searches resulting in three arrests, while key accused Ajay Bhardwaj and Mahendra Bhardwaj remain at large.

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