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Raj Kundra controlled operations of porn racket, says Mumbai Police

A metropolitan magistrate court on Tuesday remanded actor Shilpa Shetty’s husband Ripu Sudan aka Raj Kundra and his aide Ryan Thorpe to police custody till July 23 in connection with a pornographic film racket
By Manish K Pathak and Charul Shah, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON JUL 20, 2021 11:33 PM IST

A metropolitan magistrate court on Tuesday remanded actor Shilpa Shetty’s husband Ripu Sudan aka Raj Kundra and his aide Ryan Thorpe to police custody till July 23 in connection with a pornographic film racket.

In its application seeking Kundra’s remand, the Mumbai Police crime branch claimed that the 45-year-old had got a mobile application developed for running a pornographic film racket and used to control its entire operation himself through WhatsApp groups.

Kundra, along with one Sourabh Kushwah, according to the remand application, had in February 2019 started a company namely, Arms Prime Media Pvt Ltd. Around six months later, the company developed a mobile phone application, Hotshot, and then sold it to Kenrin Ltd., a London-based entity owned by Kundra’s relative Pardeep Bakshi for $25,000.

In December 2019, Kundra resigned from Arms Prime Media, after which, one Sanjay Tripathi, a witness in the case, took it over.

The mobile phone application, available only to paid subscribers, was used to upload pornographic content, shot in Mumbai and surrounding areas, police claimed. The remand application added that other accused and witnesses in the case have revealed that the pornographic films shot in Mumbai were transferred to Kenrin, London, from where the obscene content was uploaded on the Hotshot app. Kundra controlled the entire operation of the app through three WhatsApp groups that he had created in the name of “HS,” and that Kundra was the administrator of these WhatsApp groups.

The crime branch raided in Kundra’s office in Andheri (West) and have seized incriminating evidence like subscription hits, WhatsApp chats, pornographic clips, agreement papers, emails and account details, said joint commissioner of police Milind Bharambe of the crime branch.

Thorpe worked in Kundra’s company as IT head. Kamat had allegedly sent the porn videos to the UK where it was uploaded on Hotshot app. After noticing its contents the Hotshots app was taken down by Apple App Store in June 2020 and was also removed from the Google Play Store in November 2020. We have freezed a total of 7.5 crore from the bank accounts of several apps in the case, said Bharambe.

Police further claimed that it was through these groups — HS Accounts, HS Take Down and HS Operations — Kundra monitored the content, payments to artists and the revenue generated through the app. Bakshi made the payments based on Kundra’s instructions, the remand application added.

Property cell of the Mumbai crime branch has registered a case in connection with the pornographic racket on February 4, 2021, when it raided a bungalow in the Madh area and arrested five persons, including two women engaged in shooting a pornographic film. Police also claimed to have rescued a young woman, who was allegedly lured into acting in a short film and forced to perform sex on camera.

Subsequently, two more offences have been registered at Malwani police station based on complaints lodged by two women who claimed that they too were exploited by the gang.

Police later arrested four more persons, including Kundra’s former employee Umesh Kamat, who allegedly operated from one of the office premises belonging to Kundra and coordinated with Kernin Ltd.

Police on Monday night placed Kundra under arrest after interrogating him for hours. The property cell on Tuesday also arrested one Ryan Thorpe, a Nerul resident and an expert in information technology, who allegedly helped maintain the mobile phone application through two of his associates.

Both, Kundra and Thorpe, were produced before a metropolitan magistrate court on Tuesday and remanded to police custody till July 23.

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