Raj Kundra earned 1.1cr from app in 5 months: Mumbai Police

Published on Jul 27, 2021 11:58 PM IST

Actor Shilpa Shetty’s husband Ripu Sudan aka Raj Kundra – arrested in connection with a pornographic film racket – earned over USD 158,057, valuing around ₹1

HT Image
HT Image
ByManish K Pathak and Charul Shah

Actor Shilpa Shetty’s husband Ripu Sudan aka Raj Kundra – arrested in connection with a pornographic film racket – earned over USD 158,057, valuing around 1.17 crore, from subscribers of his Hotshots app on Apple’s App Store between August and December 2020, Mumbai Police revealed in their remand application, while seeking the extension of his custody. The police are yet to get details of the 45-year-old businessman’s earnings from the subscribers of the mobile phone app on Google Play Store. However, police officers believe that the businessman might have received more money from Play Store users as the number of Android phone users is much higher.

Claiming that they have seized huge data from Kundra’s Juhu residence, the property cell of the Mumbai Police crime branch had sought an extension of six days of his remand for questioning him on the data they retrieved. The police said they have seized many electronic gadgets and storage devices, and a digital forensic auditor has been appointed to analyse the data collected from Kundra’s residence.

The crime branch had in its earlier remand applications revealed that Kundra had got a mobile app developed for running a pornographic film racket and used to control its entire operation himself through WhatsApp groups.

The police also sought extension in custody of Kundra’s IT support provider Ryan Thorpe.

A metropolitan magistrate court, however, remanded both of them to judicial custody after which they were shifted to Arthur Road jail.

Kundra has applied for bail, which will come up for hearing on Wednesday.

Both, Kundra and Thorpe were arrested by the property cell on July 19 in connection with an alleged pornography racket that the police had busted in February.

According to the police in February 2019, Kundra set up a company, Arms Prime Media Pvt Ltd, for himself and one Sourabh Kushwah. About six months later, the company developed a mobile phone app, Hotshots, and then sold it to Kenrin Ltd, a London-based entity owned by Kundra’s relative Pardeep Bakshi for USD 25,000 ( around 18.62 lakh).

In December 2019, Kundra resigned from Arms Prime Media, after which a man named Sanjay Tripathi, who is now a witness in the case, took over it, said the police.

The mobile phone app, available only to paid subscribers, was used to upload pornographic content shot in Mumbai and the surrounding areas, the police claimed. The remand application added that the other accused and witnesses in the case have revealed that the pornographic films shot in Mumbai used to be transferred to Kenrin from where the obscene content used to be uploaded on Hotshots.

The police claimed that it was through three WhatsApp groups – HS Accounts, HS Take Down and HS Operations – that Kundra used to monitor the content, payments to artists and revenue generated through the app and issue payments instructions and details. Bakshi used to make the payments based on Kundra’s instructions, the remand application added.

The police’s application stated that three bank accounts – two of Arms Prime Media Pvt Ltd and one account of Avalanche Technology Pvt Ltd, having a total balance of over 1.13 crore – have been debit-freezed.

The property cell had registered a case in connection with the pornographic racket on February 4, after it raided a bungalow at Madh area and arrested five persons engaged in shooting a pornographic film. Police also claimed to have rescued a young woman who was allegedly lured into acting in short films and forced to perform sexual acts on camera.

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