Raj Kundra, a British businessman and spouse of Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty, was questioned by Indian law enforcement (ED) in connection with Amit Bhardwaj’s alleged cryptocurrency ponzi scheme, Quartz India reports Wednesday, June 6.
Amit Bhardwaj and his brother, Vivek Bhardwaj had been arrested in India on April 4 on the charges of scamming about 8,000 investors out of around $300 mln through their GainBitcoin investment scheme. The platform guaranteed 10 percent monthly returns, a claim not realized by investors, and issued its own MCAP token in an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) that is considered fraudulent due to the company’s price manipulation.
Local news outlet The Times of India reported that the ED questioned Kundra to clarify if he was a cryptocurrency investor or participated in the ponzi scheme with Bhardwaj, noting that sources saying Kundra did not invest any money with Bhardwaj.
Kundra said in a statement to The Times of India that he wants to “clarify that I have no involvement or connection in the Bitcoin scam whatsoever:”
“I was summoned by the ED merely as a witness. An inquiry is underway and I am cooperating with the law enforcement agency as Bhardwaj is an acquaintance and protocol is being followed. Bharadwaj was to buy a team in the poker league and got into a contract with us. But due to non-payment, his contract was terminated. I have come as a witness to the same.”
India’s ED connected Kundra to Bhardwaj after finding associations between the arrested alleged crypto scammer and the Match Indian Poker League, which is promoted by Kundra’s company Viaan Industries.
Quartz India notes that Amit Bhardwaj had around 100,000 investors at one point on the GainBitcoin network and received celebrity endorsements, including one from Kundra’s spouse Shetty.
Several other large crypto-related ponzi schemes have been discovered and prosecuted in recent months. In April, it was reported that over $660 mln from over 32,000 investors was stolen from two ICOs in Vietnam, reportedly the largest ICO scam in crypto history thus far.
And at the end of May, South African police launched an investigation into crypto company BTC Global for allegedly defrauding over 28,000 of more than $80 mln.