Amit Bhardwaj, the key accused in the massive GainBitcoin scam case, has now filed a separate application in the Supreme Court of India, seeking to deposit INR 2 Cr in lieu of Supreme Court’s order dated April 3, 2019.
Granting bail on April 3, the SC had directed Amit Bhardwaj to deposit INR 10 Cr within six month period which will end on October 2. The court had directed, “A sum INR 10 Cr will be deposited in the registry of this court within a period of six months from today which amount shall be kept in an interest-bearing short term fixed deposit of nationalised bank.”
As a result, Deepak Prakash who is representing Bhardwaj in the Supreme Court has filed another application requesting the court to modify the amount. Offering an amount of INR 2 Cr, he wrote, “In compliance of the Annexure A-1 order (April 3), out of total sum of INR 10 Cr, the applicant is hereby making a part deposit of a sum of INR 2 Cr in the registry of this court, by way of a fixed deposit amounting to INR 2 Cr from the account of petitioner.”
It added that collecting INR 10 Cr by way of borrowings and loans from friends is taking a lot of time and effort on the part of petitioner. In the meanwhile, the petitioner pleaded with the court to accept the part deposits if and when it is made by the petitioner i.e Bhardwaj.
Amit’s brother Vivek Bhardwaj who was also granted bail by the Supreme Court on April 3 was also directed to pay INR 1 Cr within six months i.e. by October 2. A third Bhardwaj brother, Ajay, too succeeded in getting anticipatory bail on August 30, in lieu of INR 1 Cr deposit. Ajay Bhardwaj has been given six months to deposit the mentioned amount.
The enforcement directorate has already taken cognisance of his three properties in Dubai worth INR 39 Cr, Pune police have recovered 35 Bitcoin and have frozen bank accounts belonging to Amit Bhardwaj, his brothers and the company. As a result, Bhardwaj in his application claimed that he did not have access to his properties worth INR 41.64 Cr.
Meanwhile, unhappy with the allegedly compromised investigation, some of the investors out of over 8K investors who had invested in GainBitcoin have also written to the President Ram Nath Kovind now questioning the expertise of the police over the matter. This is not the first letter sent by the investors to the government. They have already written letters to the Prime Minister, the home minister, ministry of corporate affairs, enforcement directorate, and many others.
On the condition of anonymity, investors Inc42 spoke to pointed out that there are serious lapses in the ongoing investigation.
Some investors pointed out the bail pleas of Amit Bhardwaj, his brothers Ajay and Vivek, and their father Mahinder Bhardwaj and others were not communicated to other stakeholders such as Pune Police, the enforcement directorate, Mumbai.
The government secretaries who received notices from the court failed to communicate with these stakeholders. As a result, the ED, Mumbai and Pune Police were not even aware of the bail orders. This has affected the entire investigation.
Pune Police claims to have frozen all the accounts of Amt Bhardwaj and co, but some investors have found documentation that may indicate otherwise, as seen below.
Out of over 17 FIRs filed across the country in the last two years, only a few chargesheets have been filed against Amit Bhardwaj.
The investigation team at Pune Police does not seem to have the apt blockchain expertise to investigate thoroughly, claimed investors. For instance, they said that the police have recovered 35 Bitcoins from Amit Bhardwaj’s Koinex wallet which was opened just a few days before the arrest.
Amit Bhardwaj’s mining pool GBMiners had mined over 26,500 Bitcoins, and Bhardwaj had also operated through Zebpay wallets. The investors, therefore, demand that Zebpay founders must also be investigated in this matter.
Other GainBitcoin investors claim that Amit Bhardwaj and co had received a total of over 700K Bitcoins through investments, a major part of which has been transferred to cold wallets, which the police have shown no interest to recover.
Last year, Juhee Jain at De Montfort University, UK had submitted a detailed research paper over the GainBitcoin scam, which claims to have affected close to 8K investors in Maharashtra alone. The actual number of investors could be much more. It added that both the number of victims affected and the quantum of money involved are likely to go up as the scheme was run all over India and internationally (in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Russia, Ukraine, UAE, and Venezuela) as well.
According to her report, a majority of the victims (70%) did not check whether the contract for the proposed schemes was legally enforceable. Further, non-receipt of return and change of agreement were the two chief reasons that made 86% of the victims realise that they have been defrauded as depicted above. This reflects a general lack of due-diligence in the investment process. Most victims seem to have relied primarily upon the advice from agent and friends, observed Jain.
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