ED attaches Raj Kundra’s properties worth Rs 97.79 crore in Bitcoin investment fraud case

Published On: April 18, 2024 05:13 PM NPT By: Agencies

MUMBAI, April 18: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) said on Thursday it has provisionally attached immovable and movable properties worth Rs 97.79 crore belonging to Raj Kundra, businessman and actor Shilpa Shetty’s husband, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in the Bitcoin investment fraud case.

The central agency said the attached properties include a residential flat in Mumbai’s upscale Juhu area, which is currently in the name of Shilpa Shetty, a residential bungalow situated in Pune, and equity shares in Kundra’s name.

ED’s latest action against Kundra is in connection with the money laundering case which was filed against him based on multiple FIRs registered by Maharashtra Police and Delhi Police against Variable Tech Pte Ltd, (late) Amit Bhardwaj, Ajay Bhardwaj, Vivek Bhardwaj, Simpy Bhardwaj, Mahender Bhardwaj, and several multiple level marketing (MLM) agents.

The FIRs alleged the accused had collected huge amounts of funds in the form of Bitcoins (worth Rs 6,600 crore in 2017) from people with false promises of a 10 per cent per month return in the form of Bitcoins. “The collected Bitcoins were supposed to be utilised for Bitcoin mining and investors were supposed to get huge returns in crypto assets. But the promoters cheated the investors and have been concealing the ill-gotten Bitcoins in obscure online wallets,” ED stated in a statement.

ED’s investigation into the matter has revealed that Kundra received 285 Bitcoins from the mastermind and promoter of the Gain Bitcoin Ponzi Scam Amit Bhardwaj for setting up a Bitcoin mining farm in Ukraine. These Bitcoins were sourced out of proceeds of crime collected by Amit Bhardwaj from gullible investors.

Since the deal didn’t materialise, Kundra is still in possession of 285 Bitcoins, which are presently valued at more than Rs 150 crore, the ED said.

Earlier, multiple search operations were carried out in this case and Simpy Bhardwaj, Nitin Gaur, and Nikhil Mahajan were arrested last year. They are all in judicial custody while the main accused Ajay Bhardwaj and Mahendra Bhardwaj are still wanted by law enforcement agencies.

This is the second attachment in the case. Earlier, the ED had attached properties worth Rs 69 crore in the case. The ED has already filed Prosecution Complaints (chargesheet) against the arrested accused.

Kundra spent two months in Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail in 2021 in connection with a pornography case. He was granted bail in September 2021 by a metropolitan magistrate’s court in Mumbai.

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