Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty's husband and businessman Raj Kundra, who was reportedly grilled by Enforcement Directorate (ED) for almost seven hours on Tuesday in Mumbai, has claimed that he had gone to the ED as a witness for the ongoing investigations in the Rs 2,000 crore bitcoin scam.
"ED called me as witness. There's an Amit Bhardwaj, who's involved in some scam. He had purchased poker team from our poker league but didn't make payment so we expelled his team. I've given my statement," Raj Kundra told ANI.
Clearing the air on the issue, Kundra said in a statement, "I was summoned by the ED merely as a witness. An enquiry is underway by the concerned regulatory authorities and I stand committed to extend all my cooperation to the law enforcement agency."
According to a report in Zee News, during the interrogation, several names of high-profile Bollywood celebrities have also cropped up which includes Sunny Leone, Prachi Desai, Aarti Chabria, Sonal Chauhan, Karishma Tanna, Zareen Khan, Neha Dhupia, Huma Qureshi and Nargis Fakhri. The ED is likely to question Shilpa Shetty as well on the matter.
However, this is not the first time Kundra had a brush with law. In the past, he had appeared before different authorities on his investments in the Rajasthan Royals IPL team. Some members of that team were also embroiled in the cricket spot-fixing scandal.
In his statement here vis-A-vis the media speculation of his grilling, Kundra said: "I am terribly disappointed by the irresponsible reporting carried out by some sections of the media. Clarity on the issue should have been sought before carrying such headlines."
"The authorities, summoned me merely as a witness, as the accused Amit Bharadwaj happens to be an acquaintance and some introductions were made hence there is a certain protocol being followed by the agencies," said Kundra.
He added that Bhardwaj was intending to buy a team in his Poker League and had entered into a contract with them for the same.
"However, he was expelled on account of non-payment of fees and I was called as a witness in this connection. While we continuously strive to keep taking steps to improve our reputation, these type of unconfirmed, baseless, reports severely dent our market perception and erode investor sentiments," he said.
"Notwithstanding what has happened, at Viaan Industries, we shall continue to focus on growing our gaming and media vertical. We remain excited about the company's future and strive to keep adding shareholder value," he said.
It may be recalled, the ED, sometime back, had registered a criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against a bitcoin-based investment website GainBitcoin, its founder Amit Bhardwaj and eight others.
The ED had alleged that about 8,000 investors lost around Rs 2,000 crore funds by transacting in this scheme.
The Pune police had later arrested Bhardwaj and his brother Vivek in the case.
In May, the Gujarat branch of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) had arrested Kirit Paladiya for stealing bitcoins from his partner. According to the police authorities, Paladiya stole 176 bitcoins worth over Rs 9 crore from his partner, Shailesh Bhatt.
Furthermore, Amreli's Superintendent of Police Jagdish Patel, Amreli local Crime Branch inspector Anant Patel and two other constables were arrested for alleged involvement in the case.
(With IANS/ANI Inputs)