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MUMBAI: ED, which has provisionally attached properties worth Rs 97.8 crore belonging to businessman Raj Kundra and his actor wife Shilpa Shetty in a Pune bitcoin scam involving Amit Bharadwaj and his brother Ajay, said, “The 285 bitcoins Kundra got were sourced from the proceeds of crime collected by Amit Bhardwaj from gullible investors. Since the deal didn’t materialize, Kundra is still in possession and enjoyment of 285 bitcoins, which are presently valued at more than Rs 150 crore.”

The attached properties include a bungalow in Pune and equity shares in the name of Kundra.

ED sources said Kundra had used the proceeds of crime to create properties. The agency had recorded his statement in the case earlier, and he told them that he received payment from Bhardwaj for providing consultancy for the bitcoin business.

Pune-based Bhardwaj brothers promoted Variabletech Pte Ltd, a Singapore-based company, and controlled after claiming that it had acquired cloud mining hash power (which refers to capability in machines used for crypto mining) from large vendors. They lured investors by promising good returns and through collected bitcoins equivalent to Rs 6,600 crore from investors. However, the duo cheated investors by concealing ill-gotten bitcoins in obscure online wallets. The brothers failed to pay the promised returns, after which the investors filed police cases against them at various places a few years ago, based on which ED registered the money laundering case.Amit Bhardwaj died abroad in 2022, after which the investigators’ focus shifted to his brother Ajay.

Earlier, multiple search operations were carried out in this case. During one of the searches last year, ED found Ajay at his home in Delhi. The ED team was searching the premises in his presence when his wife, Simpy, allegedly came home with a group of lawyers and they engaged ED officials after accusing them of violating court orders related to the case. Ajay alleedly used the opportunity to flee their home along with his father, and they are still at large.

After the incident, the agency filed a separate police case against Simpy, along with others, for creating hurdles during the search and arrested her in the money laundering case it was investigating. ED said Simpy was actively involved in the scam. It also arrested her brother Nitin Gaur and one Nikhil Mahajan and charged them with money laundering. Mahajan, a Delhi-based event management company owner, had helped Bhardwaj brothers organise two events in Dubai a few years ago. All three are currently in judicial custody. Earlier, ED had attached properties worth Rs 69 crore in the case.

  • Published On Apr 19, 2024 at 02:35 PM IST

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