Two separate chargesheets have been filed against Amit Bhardwaj, who was arrested in Bangkok on March 31, and eight others in the country’s largest-ever $300 Mn Bitcoin scam. Amit Bhardwaj, an Indian investor and the founder/CEO of GB Miners, is a self-proclaimed “cryptocurrency guru and visionary.”
The Darwin Labs founders have been named in one chargesheet (Dattawadi) only, while the rest seven have been made accused in both the chargesheets.
A senior member of Pune Police, crime branch team who is investigating the matter told Inc42, “Yes, the chargesheets have been filed. While one chargesheet related to the Dattawadi police station was filed on June 11, another ‘4000 page-long’ chargesheet is being filed today against nine persons, including Amit Bhardwaj, at Shivaji Nagar District Court, Pune.”
The ‘Dattawadi’ chargesheet has been filed with IPC 406, 420, 34, 409, 120B, 109 and MPID Act 3 and 4, and IT Act, Section 66B.
Apart from Amit Bhardwaj, the eight others against whom the chargesheets have been filed in the bitcoin scam are Hemant Vishwas, Hemant Babasaheb Chavan, Ajay Tanaji Saheb, Pankaj Srinandkishore, Chandrakant Bhope, and Nikunj Jain and Sahil Baghla of Darwin Labs.
The person said, “So far, we have registered the statements of 167 people in this case. Based on these statements, the number of Bitcoins involved in the fraud has gone up to 1,755. However, it’s based on the current statements and complaints, which will only go up further in the future.”
47 people have registered their statements in the Dattawadi case, while the rest 120, in Nigdi case. The police have so far recovered 206 Bitcoins, 79.999 EThereum and $56.3K in cash. The cybercrime branch has also identified a number of companies and properties in Hong Kong, Dubai and other locations. This also includes Amit Bhardwaj’s flat at Burj Khalifa, Dubai, which he reportedly bought in INR 5 Cr.
“Ayush Varshney, another accused, is yet to be arrested and is now the most wanted in this case,” he added.
Accused of a series of Bitcoin scams worth $300 Mn, Amit Bhardwaj was arrested in Thailand and was brought back to Pune, India on March 31.
According to a report, he is also accused of being a Pakistani ISI handler.
Last year, a number of investors had filed non-bailable FIRs against Amit Bhardwaj. However, Bhardwaj, who was hiding in Dubai, didn’t respond to the police investigations at that time.
At the Dattawadi police station, a complaint was registered against Amit Bhardwaj under sections 406, 420, and 34, including the Information Act 4 and 5 and the MPID Act 3. Another police complaint was registered at the Nigdi police station.
Were Raj Kundra And Other Celebrities Involved In $300 Mn Bitcoin Scam?
The Pune Police said that it didn’t pass any information to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on the Amit Bhardwaj case and that the ED had acted at its own behest, based on the celebrities’ presence in the Amit Bhardwaj’s seminars on Bitcoin. Bhardwaj hosted seminars at five-star hotels and invited celebrities to lure investors. The seminars explained the concept of Bitcoin and also how an investor could make money by investing in GainBitcoin.
So far, there is no intelligence whether any other celebrities, whose names came up in interrogations in the case, were involved in the Bitcoin transactions. Last week, ED had summoned Raj Kundra, businessman and husband of Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty, and had questioned him in connection with the above-mentioned scam.
Kundra’s eight-hour-long interrogation had thrown up the names of nine other celebrities who had earlier attended Amit Bhardwaj’s seminars. The high-profile celebrities whose names came up during the questioning in the Bitcoin scam are Sunny Leone, Prachi Desai, Aarti Chhabria, Sonal Chauhan, Karishma Tanna, Zareen Khan, Neha Dhupia, Huma Qureshi, and Nargis Fakhri.