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ED Steps Up Probe In INR 20,000 Cr GainBitcoin Scam; Raids Offices, Houses Of Accused

ED Steps Up Probe In INR 20,000 Cr GainBitcoin Scam; Raids Offices, Houses Of Accused

ED conducted search operations at Ajay Bhardwaj’s homes, a law firm’s office in Delhi and another accused's house in Chandigarh

Victims met Maharashtra home minister Dilip Walse-Patil demanding an SIT investigation of the case

Meanwhile, other state police departments, including Srinagar, Mumbai and Delhi have also started investigating the case

The Enforcement Directorate’s (ED’s) probe in the GainBitcoin scam has gathered pace, with the agency raiding six premises across the country to gather evidence.

In April, the Pune Police had shared the case investigation details with the ED. The investigation in the case has deepened since the death of key accused Amit Bhardwaj due to a cardiac arrest on January 15, 2022.

The ED conducted search operations at the house and farmhouse of Ajay Bhardwaj, the younger brother of Amit Bhardwaj. Besides, raids were also carried out at the premises of a law firm associated with some of the accused persons in the case, house of another accused Sanchit Alagh and two other locations in relation with the bail payments made for Amit Bhardwaj and his associates, sources told Inc42.

“The ED now suspects that Ajay Bhardwaj has been lying to them regarding his involvement in the case. In fact, Ajay has been found actively involved in the operations of Coinbank, GainBitcoin and other ponzi schemes headed by the late Amit Bhardwaj. The operation is being carried out to substantiate this further,” a source said.

The ED is also deepening its investigation into other accused persons in the case. It is also looking into the role of the remaining family members of Amit Bhardwaj, including his wife, in the scam. The agency has already imposed restrictions on her international travel. Amit Bhardwaj’s brothers — Ajay and Vivek, mother Bimla Devi, father Mahendra Kumar Bhardwaj, and sister-in-law have already been made accused in the GainBitcoin case.

Victim Meets Maharashtra Home Minister

Meanwhile, Pune-based Parvendra Singh Sahoo, one of the victims of the GainBitcoin scam, met Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil on May 28. Speaking to Inc42, Sahoo said he shared the case details with the minister and demanded an SIT investigation into the case by Maharashtra Police.

“The case is much bigger than what it (agencies) claims to be so far,” Sahoo said.

Sahoo has already written letters to a number of government authorities, including President Ram Nath Kovind, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Income Tax Department, among others, requesting them to look into the merits of the case.

In the meeting with Patil, Sahoo also demanded an investigation into the role of Zebpay.

It is worth noting that Pune Police has been the most active investigator in the case. In March, it arrested Ravindranath Prabhakar Patil and Pankaj Ghude, who were earlier appointed by the Police to help retrieve cryptocurrencies in the case. Patil and Ghude had transferred the retrieved Bitcoins to their personal wallets instead of transferring them to the Police wallets.

Patil’s bail application was rejected by the Pune District Sessions Court on May 12, while Ghude’s petition is scheduled for hearing on June 7.

Mumbai, Srinagar And Delhi Police Now Questioning Ajay Bhardwaj

With Pune Police and the ED deepening their investigations in the GainBitcoin scam, other police forces have also started probing the case. Mumbai Police, Srinagar Police and Delhi Police are now actively investigating the case.

In fact, Mulund (Mumbai) Police recently summoned Ajay Bhardwaj. However, he didn’t appear before the Mumbai Police personally and was represented by his lawyer, sources told Inc42.

On May 10, 2022, Srinagar Police visited Ajay Bhardwaj’s house to arrest and interrogate him. While the Police could not locate him, they interrogated Vivek Bhardwaj, another accused in the case and younger brother of Amit Bhardwaj.

Meanwhile, Delhi Police, led by DCP, Cybercell KPS Malhotra, is investigating the case and is expected to file a chargesheet soon.

GainBitcoin Case: Recap

The GainBitcoin scam is considered to be one of the biggest ponzi schemes globally, with more than 8,000 investors losing their money.

In 2014, when hardly anyone in India had any knowledge about cryptocurrencies, Amit Bhardwaj launched GainBitcoin, a Bitcoin-based ponzi scheme promising a highly-inflated 10% monthly return on Bitcoin investments.

Amit set up more than 40 companies worldwide to carry out his ‘illegal’ activities under the garb of crypto investments. These companies were allegedly operated by his near-and-dear ones, including his father and brothers.