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Raj Kundra's assets worth Rs 97 crore seized in Ponzi Scheme investigation

In connection with a bitcoin Ponzi scheme, the Enforcement Directorate has seized both movable and immovable properties belonging to businessman Raj Kundra, totaling Rs 97 crore. Among the assets seized is a flat owned by his wife, actor Shilpa Shetty, located in Mumbai.

Written by  Annesha Barua -- April 18th 2024 01:06 PM
Raj Kundra's assets worth Rs 97 crore seized in Ponzi Scheme investigation

Raj Kundra's assets worth Rs 97 crore seized in Ponzi Scheme investigation

PTC News Desk: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has provisionally attached assets totaling Rs 97.79 crore belonging to businessman Raj Kundra in connection with a bitcoin-based Ponzi scheme under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002. Among the attached properties is a flat in Juhu registered in the name of Kundra's wife, actor Shilpa Shetty.

Included in the seizure are both immovable and movable assets, such as a bungalow in Pune and equity shares owned by Raj Kundra.

The ED's investigation stems from multiple FIRs filed by both Maharashtra Police and Delhi Police against Variable Tech Private Limited and its accused members, including the late Amit Bhardwaj, Ajay Bhardwaj, Vivek Bhardwaj, Simpy Bhardwaj, Mahender Bhardwaj, and others.

The allegations suggest that the accused orchestrated a bitcoin-based Ponzi scheme, amassing significant funds, approximately Rs 6,600 crore in bitcoins by 2017, by falsely promising investors a monthly return of 10 per cent in bitcoins.

Investors were led to believe that their funds would be used for bitcoin mining, yielding substantial returns in crypto assets. However, the accused individuals deceived investors and concealed the acquired bitcoins in obscure online wallets.

According to the ED's findings, Raj Kundra received 285 bitcoins from Amit Bhardwaj, the mastermind behind the GainBitcoin Ponzi scheme, intended for establishing a bitcoin mining farm in Ukraine. These bitcoins, sourced from proceeds of crime collected from unsuspecting investors, amount to more than Rs 150 crore at current valuation.

Despite the deal failing to materialise, Raj Kundra retains possession of the 285 bitcoins.

Previously, several search operations were conducted in connection with the case, leading to the arrest of three individuals—Simpy Bhardwaj (on December 17, 2023), Nithin Gaur (on December 29, 2023), and Nikhil Mahajan (on January 16, 2023)—all of whom are currently in judicial custody. However, the main accused, Ajay Bhardwaj and Mahendra Bhardwaj, remain at large.

Earlier asset attachments by the ED amounted to Rs 69 crore. Legal proceedings commenced on June 11, 2019, with subsequent complaints filed on February 14 this year, garnering attention from a special PMLA court.

- With inputs from agencies

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