ED attaches assets worth ₹97.79 cr of Raj Kundra in Bitcoin-based Ponzi scheme case | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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ED attaches assets worth 97.79 cr of Raj Kundra in Bitcoin-based Ponzi scheme case

Apr 18, 2024 02:34 PM IST

According to ED sources, Kundra had allegedly received 285 bitcoins, currently valued at around ₹150 crore, from the scam’s suspected mastermind to set up a Bitcoin mining farm in Ukraine

The Mumbai zonal unit of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has provisionally attached assets worth 97.79 crore of businessman Ripu Sudan Kundra, also known as Raj Kundra, husband of Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty, as part of its money-laundering investigation related to the alleged 6,600 crore Bitcoin-based Ponzi scheme operated by a Singapore-based firm Variable Tech Pte Ltd.

Actor Shilpa Shetty’s husband and businessman Raj Kundra. (Raju Shinde/ HT File Photo)
Actor Shilpa Shetty’s husband and businessman Raj Kundra. (Raju Shinde/ HT File Photo)

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.

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According to ED sources, Kundra had allegedly received 285 bitcoins, currently valued at around 150 crore, from the scam’s suspected mastermind to set up a Bitcoin mining farm in Ukraine. However, the project did not materialise, and Kundra is still in possession of the bitcoins. The attached assets include a residential flat in suburban Juhu in the name of Kundra’s wife Shetty, a bungalow in Pune, and his equity shares.

The ED’s probe has 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.

ED had initiated its investigation on the basis of multiple cases registered by the Maharashtra police and the Delhi police against Variable Tech Pte Ltd, Late Amit Bhardwaj, Ajay Bhardwaj, Vivek Bhardwaj, Simpy Bhardwaj, Mahender Bhardwaj and several Multi-Level-Marketing (MLM) agents, wherein it was alleged that they had collected around 6,600 crores in the form of 80,000 bitcoins from the public in the name of investment.

“ED’s investigation revealed that Raj Kundra received 285 bitcoins from the mastermind and promoter of Gain Bitcoin Ponzi Scam, Amit Bhardwaj, for setting up a bit-coin mining farm in Ukraine. The said bitcoins were sourced out of proceeds of crime collected by Amit Bhardwaj from gullible investors,” an ED official said. “As the deal had not materialised, Kundra is still in possession and enjoyment of the 285 bitcoins, which are presently valued at more than 150 crores,” the official added.

The agency initiated its investigation based on multiple cases registered by the Maharashtra and Delhi police against Variable Tech Pte Ltd and its promoters, who allegedly cheated investors by making false promises of ensuring a 10% monthly return in the form of bitcoins. The bitcoins collected from investors were meant to be used for Bitcoin mining, with investors expecting lucrative returns in the mode of crypto assets. However, the promoters allegedly siphoned off the bitcoins and concealed them in obscure online wallets.

Earlier, the ED had carried out multiple searches in the case and arrested three persons, who are currently in judicial custody. The key accused, Ajay Bhardwaj and Mahendra Bhardwaj, are still absconding. The agency had previously attached properties worth 69 crore in the case and submitted a charge sheet in June 2019 and on February 14 of this year, of which a Mumbai special court has taken cognisance.

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