First Assets Seized in Amit Bhardwaj Fraud Case
The Indian economic intelligence agency, the Enforcement Directorate, has provisionally seized assets worth $5.8 USD million in relation to infamous bitcoin Ponzi scheme operator Amit Bhardwaj, who swindled people to the tune of $300 million. In the meantime, Delhi police also took Vivek Bhardwaj, Amit’s brother, into custody.
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Assets Worth $5.8 Million Seized
In what is known to be the first seizure of assets in the Bhardwaj case, India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) took into custody a number of properties in India and abroad under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), reported Business Standard. As part of the seizure, the economic intelligence agency confiscated immovable assets in the form of six offices in Dubai and several residential properties and bank balances in India, totaling $5.8 million.
The total value of the assets snared by the ED accounts for only about two percent of the total scam amount. In April this year, the alleged kingpin and his brother Vivek were arrested in Bangkok after being on the run for months.
Following their arrests, the Bhardwaj brothers were brought back to the country and have since been in the custody of the Pune Police. Bhardwaj and his associates primarily targeted investors from the state of Maharashtra.
A New Case Opens Against the Bhardwaj Brothers
However, the Delhi police were recently awarded custody of Vivek Bhardwaj in light of a new case filed in Delhi on charges of bitcoin-related fraud, as reported by The Indian Express. Vivek was accused of duping $138,000 from an owner of a Delhi-based IT firm, T R Mittal. Per Mittal, Vivek promised a ten percent return on investment plus trips to Dubai.
The duo engineered a number of cryptocurrency-related schemes spreading across several states of the country. The Bhardwaj brothers operated an ecosystem of cryptocurrency schemes, ranging from mining pools, trading platforms, multi-level marketing schemes, and even developing a crypto token through a Singapore registered firm dubbed Ms Variabletech Pvt Ltd.
The scam included GBMiners, apparently India’s first bitcoin mining pool, GainBitcoin, a cloud-based trading and mining platform and MCAP, the self-created digital token.
These multiple Ponzi schemes allowed Bhardwaj to scam over eight thousand people to the amount of $300 million, apparently making it India’s biggest bitcoin sham. Bhardwaj talked less tech-savvy individuals into the scheme by providing false hopes. Furthermore, he sought celebrity endorsements to lure investors into the Ponzi schemes.
Raj Kundra, high profile British-Indian businessman and husband of Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty, was interrogated in June by the ED over his links to Amit Bhardwaj.
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