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Bombay HC denies bail to 2 accused in cryptocurrency fraud

Nearly 15,800 investors invested over Rs 113 crore in the scheme, floated by absconding Amit Lakhanpal, managing director of Flintstone Group of Companies.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
February 9, 2021 9:28:24 pm
Bitcoin, US dollar, Bitcoin exchange, digital currency, digital currency usage, bitcoin value, bitcoin latest news, how to invest in bitcoin, bitcoin value in us dollar, bitcoin value in indian rupeesA coin representing Bitcoin cryptocurrency (Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg)

The Bombay High Court on Monday rejected the bail application of two persons, booked and arrested by Thane police in connection with a cryptocurrency scheme fraud. Nearly 15,800 investors invested over Rs 113 crore in the scheme, floated by absconding Amit Lakhanpal, managing director of Flintstone Group of Companies. Lakhanpal started the cryptocurrency venture, Money Trade Coin (MTC), along with some applicants, who were his aides.

The funds were diverted to companies in countries like England, Estonia, Poland, Switzerland and Dubai.

A single-judge bench of Justice Sandeep K Shinde on February 8 passed the ruling on the bail pleas by Taha Kazi (26), who gave technical backing to Lakhanpal’s venture and Sachin Shelar (43), an aide of Lakhanpal. The duo were booked by the Thane police in June 2018 for cheating the investors. Kazi and Shelar were represented by advocates Akhilesh Dubey and Nitin Pradhan, respectively.

The accused were also booked under the provisions of the Chit Funds Act, 1982, Information Technology Act, 2000, and the Maharashtra Protection of Interest of Depositors (in Financial Establishments) Act, 1999.

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Advocate Pradhan for applicant Shelar contended that his client had been working under Lakhanpal’s authority as his employee. He was neither involved in the decision-making process nor had control over the companies’ day-to-day affairs.

Additional Public Prosecutor Veera Shinde for the state government opposed the bail pleas and submitted an affidavit of Nitin Thakare, senior inspector of Crime Branch, Thane, and pointed out the role attributed to the applicants and their complicity in the crime.

Rejecting the bail pleas, the court said, “Having regard to the role of applicants’ surfaced in the investigation, if they are released, further investigation will surely be influenced. Equally, whereabouts of the key accused is not traced. Thus, though investigation (partly) is over, chances of tampering prosecution evidence at the hands of applicants cannot be ruled out.”

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