The Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday questioned Shilpa Shetty’s husband and businessman Raj Kundra in connection with the Gain Bitcoin case where more than 8,000 people were duped to the tune of Rs 2,000 crores from across the country. Kundra, former co-owner of Rajasthan Royals IPL team, had reportedly invested in the virtual currency and profited from it. Kundra is suspected to be involved in money laundering, even though no case has been registered against him.
Kundra, who was questioned by officials till late-evening today, said, “ED called me as a witness. There’s an Amit Bhardwaj, who’s involved in some scam. He had purchased poker team from our poker league but didn’t make payment so we expelled his team. I’ve given my statement.” Kundra also said that Bhardwaj wanted to pay for the poker team in bitcoin which was not accepted and his team was eventually expelled. “We thought he is a respectable person so we alloted him a team. His contract was terminated after he failed to make the payments,” said Kundra while leaving the ED office at around 10pm on Tuesday.
In April, the Pune police had arrested Amit Bhardwaj and his brother Vivek, the alleged masterminds of the cryptocurrency scam. The Bhardwaj brothers, residents of Shahipur village in Delhi’s Shalimar Bagh area, are the founders and CEOs of Gain Bitcoin, GB Minors and GB21 firms through which they lured investors.
The Delhi Police said that Bhardwaj introduced the first online retail marketplace accepting bitcoin in the country in 2014. A total of 10 people have been arrested in the case and have been booked under IPC Sections 406, 420, 34, provisions of the Information Technology Act and Prize Chit Fund and Money Schemes (Banning) Act. Police said that Bhardwaj had duped investors in Mumbai, Pune, Nanded, Kolhapur and other cities in the state.
Bhardwaj had set up an elaborate multi-level marketing (MLM) scam by luring investors to give him Bitcoins in return for promised higher returns, police said. Under the scheme, people were asked to invest one Bitcoin for a 10 per cent return. The contract would be valid for 18 months. Bhardwaj also allegedly offered to provide Bitcoin mining hardware to the investors. However, he never gave the returns and fled the country, police said.
During the Budget session in March, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley clarified that Bitcoins or such cryptocurrencies were not legal tenders and those indulging in such transactions were doing it at their own risk.