The Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday questioned Raj Kundra, husband of actor Shilpa Shetty, for more than nine hours as a “witness” in connection with a money laundering probe related to bitcoin transactions case in Maharashtra, officials said.
The businessman was summoned at the ED’s office and was asked questions about the purported links of the alleged main accused of the case Amit Bhardwaj with his businesses.
They said Kundra was questioned for over nine hours and his statement was recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Coming out from the agency’s office, Kundra told waiting reporters that he was called as a “witness” in the case as Bhardwaj, the alleged kingpin of the case, was unsuccessful in investing in a poker league promoted by him.
Officials added that Kundra’s statement would be that of a witness in the case.
Kundra soon tweeted to reiterate his statement.
“Dear Media thanks for your breaking news across the country. I have given you all bytes outside the ED office where I was called as a witness to give evidence.
“The accused (Amit Bhardwaj) was to buy a team in my league which didn’t happen due to non payment. Thank you,” he said.
Officials said they had come across these links and hence, Kundra, chairman of Viaan Industries, was asked to depose and record his statement.
The Enforcement Directorate had registered a criminal case under the PMLA against bitcoin-based investment website GainBitcoin, its founder Amit Bhardwaj and eight others.
It is alleged that about 8,000 investors lost about Rs 2,000 crore funds by transacting in this scheme.
The ED had filed its case based on an FIR of the Maharashtra Police in this case and the Pune Police arrested Bhardwaj and his brother Vivek from Delhi in April.
Bhardwaj reportedly was behind ventures such as GainBitcoin, GBMiners, MCAP and GB21, and the investors were allegedly duped after transactions on these portals.
The central agency has expanded its probe into this case and is also investigating related bitcoin or cryptocurrency transactions that are under the scanner of other departments.
It is alleged that Bhardwaj and his associates allegedly duped investors to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore in Mumbai, Pune, Nanded, Kolhapur and other places in the state.
Last year, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had informed Parliament that there were no regulations governing virtual currencies in India and the Reserve Bank of India had not given any licence to any entity/company to operate such currencies.
The government had also cautioned investors to be wary of virtual currencies such as bitcoin, saying they were like Ponzi schemes with no legal tender and protection.