Raj Kundra, Bollywood Actress Shilpa Shetty's husband, and a British businessman with interests in cricket and mixed martial arts, was summoned and questioned for 10 hours by Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials in Mumbai on Tuesday in connection with the Rs 2,000-crore Bitcoin scam case.
Kundra entered the ED office with his bodyguard cum-driver and a female personal assistant at 11.30 am and emerged outside at 9.30 pm. He was quizzed over his connections with Amit Bhardwaj, said to be the scam mastermind.
Speaking to reporters outside the ED office, Kundra said: "We thought Amit Bhardwaj is a respectable person so we allotted him a team. ED wanted me to be a witness in the scam by Amit Bharadwaj. Amit Bharadwaj was interested in buying a team in our poker league. He wanted to pay in bitcoins which we refused. His contract was terminated after he failed to make the payments. I have become a witness for ED in the case."
ED officials had earlier told India Today TV that they would decide "whether Raj Kundra is an accused or an investor in the Bitcoin scam" only after recording his statement.
Kundra was straight away taken to the interrogation room where, in the earlier rounds, he was questioned by the investigating officer (IO) of the bitcoin case, but soon a senior ED official took over on reportedly finding Kundra's answers unsatisfactory, and quizzed him for another few hours.
According to ED, Kundra is one of the many celebrities who had promoted Bhardwaj's ponzy schemes and helped him arrange investors from outside India.
In 2017, Bhardwaj had organised a bitcoin event in Dubai, which was attended by thousands of investors. "Last year, prominent faces of Bollywood and television world, publicly promoted the visionary plans of Bhardwaj, especially on social media. In addition, mobile videos were created inviting investors to attend the Dubai mega-event. Later, these videos were circulated on social media platforms, promoting Bhardwaj's bitcoin scheme," an official told India Today TV.
An ED official told India Today TV that this was merely the tip of the iceberg, as many other celebrities will be summoned soon. Bhardwaj is the main accused in Rs 2,000 crore Bitcoin scam.
The Pune Police's cybercrime cell arrested him. Bhardwaj was the founder of Amaze Mining & Research Ltd and the author of 'Bitcoin for Beginners'. He created a multilevel marketing (MLM) scheme using his website Gainbitcoin.com and assured a 10 per cent return on each bitcoin investment.
As a result, thousands of investors were duped. After Bhardwaj's arrest, the ED registered an Enforcement Case Investigation Report (ECIR) against him for violation of virtual currencies under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).