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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Police record statement of actor Shilpa Shetty, get Kundra’s extended custody

The police custody of Kundra, who was arrested on Monday in connection to the racket where pornographic videos were allegedly uploaded online, and his company's IT engineer Ryan Thorpe, was extended by a local court till Tuesday.

Written by Mohamed Thaver , Sadaf Modak | Mumbai |
Updated: July 24, 2021 8:57:12 am
Police record statement of actor Shilpa Shetty, get Kundra’s extended custodyThe Mumbai Police on Friday recorded the statement of actor and businesswomen Shilpa Shetty at her Juhu residence in connection with the porn racket case in which her husband Raj Kundra has been arrested. (Express file photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)

The Mumbai Police on Friday recorded the statement of actor and businesswomen Shilpa Shetty at her Juhu residence in connection with the porn racket case in which her husband Raj Kundra has been arrested.

The police custody of Kundra, who was arrested on Monday in connection to the racket where pornographic videos were allegedly uploaded online, and his company’s IT engineer Ryan Thorpe, was extended by a local court till Tuesday.

Following this, a Crime Branch team took Kundra to the couple’s residence where the police conducted searches and recorded Shetty’s statement.

An officer said that so far, they have found that while adult film phone application Hotshots – through which porn movies were streamed – was owned by Kenrin Private Limited, its day-to-day operations were ran from the Mumbai premises of Kundra-owned Viaan Industries.

Shetty was earlier a director of Viaan Industries but had quit. An officer said they will question her if she was aware about the pornographic app being operated from the company premises. “We will also ask her if why she quit Viaan Industries.”

Earlier in the day, while seeking Kundra’s extended custody, the police told a local court that Hotshots app had earned 4000-10,000 British pounds (approximately Rs 4-10 lakh) per month between August 2019 and November 2020.

It claimed that in Kundra’s phone, officers have found a chat where the 45 year old is discussing selling 119 adult films to an unnamed person for $1.2 million. Transaction invoices between Kenrin and a portal known to provide advertising on pornographic websites have also been found.

In its remand application, the police mentioned that while going through Kundra’s bank account statements, it found several major transactions from ‘Mercury International’ – an online betting and casino gaming site. The court was told that the police are checking if Kundra was investing money earned from pornographic apps in the site or using it to launder the ill-gotten wealth.

The police claimed to have also found several deposits in his account in dollars and pounds from offshore accounts.

The police have added Section 201 (destruction of evidence) of the IPC against Kundra and Thorpe claiming that after the FIR in the case was registered in February, they had told employees to delete all data related to Hotshots app.

The police sought Kundra’s extended custody to interrogate him whether the $ 1.2 million dollar deal to sell 119 adult films had been struck and whether any agreement was signed and videos transferred. It claimed that it has requested the victims in this case – women forced to act in such videos – to come forward. The remand application claimed that a few women have approached the police via social media.

The police had claimed that Kundra had founded Armsprime Media Private Limited, which through London-based Kenrin Private Limited, bought Hotshots app to allegedly upload obscene videos. It claimed that Kundra’s company, Viaan Industries, and its employees, were involved in maintenance of the app.

It added that a search of Kundra’s office had led to the recovery of documents, including daily payments made by customers for buying subscription or videos. The police claimed that eight servers were seized and 51 videos found with logos of Hotshots and Bollyfame – another application allegedly made after Hotshots was removed from Apple and Android play stores and YouTube.

The police further said that in their statements, Kundra’s employees have said that he was sent invoices and payment details of the app to them. Many have said that they conducted coding for the app based on his instructions.

The police told the court that notices sent to Hotshots in October 2019 and September 2020 by YouTube and Google Play, respectively, showed that the app was involved in publishing obscene videos. It claimed that Kundra’s brother-in-law Pradeep Bakshi – a wanted accused in the case – had destroyed information linked to the case on July 21.

Senior counsel Aabad Ponda, appearing for Kundra, told the court that the case was based mainly on offences which were bailable. He added that there was no evidence against Kundra in relation to the two non-bailable offences he has been booked under – Section 67A of the Information Technology Act and Section 292 of the IPC, pertaining to obscenity.

Kundra challenges arrest in High court

Raj Kundra, arrested in the porn racket case, on Friday moved the Bombay High Court alleging that his arrest was illegal as he was not served a notice as per law.

The petition, filed through lawyer Subhash Jadhav, stated that Kundra’s name is not mentioned in the FIR. It alleged that on Monday, the police searched Kundra’s office and therefore, directed him to remain present at the crime branch office. The petition claimed that he was arrested on Monday without being served a notice in violation of laws safeguarding a person from arrest when the offence carries less than seven years of imprisonment.

Express News Service

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