In his heyday, Amit Bhardwaj used to throw grand yacht parties to explain to Indians the power of cryptocurrency and lure them into investing in Bitcoin as a surefire way to multiply their investments.
While Amit Bhardwaj’s role in introducing bitcoin to the Indian investors and users is undeniable, allegations against him in a $300 Mn Bitcoin ponzi scheme which is also reportedly said to be to the tune of $5 Bn have dampened the spirits of the many early adopters who bought into his vision.
After publishing a couple of crypto-related books, Bhardwaj managed to create a fata morgana out of Bitcoin, convinced thousands of people to invest in his multi-level-marketing schemes. Convincing them to the extent that a lot of people went on to take loans for investing.
He founded a slew of companies — AmazeMiners, GBMiners, and CoinBank — under the parent company Amaze Mining And Blockchain Research Ltd, registered in Hong Kong and GainBitcoin as part of his Singapore-based company Variabletech Pvt Ltd. He had even gone on to coin a new cryptocurrency/token — MCAP.
Promising a highly inflated 10% monthly return on Bitcoin investments for 18 months under multi-level marketing (MLM) schemes such as Bitcoin Growth Fund, Amit Bhardwaj, by the end of 2017, went missing after an alleged scam of $300 Mn.
As a result, 12 FIRs — four in Delhi NCR, one in Chandigarh, two in Pune, one in Mumbai, Thane, Nanded, Bengaluru and Kolkata each — were registered by the Bitcoin investors. The mastermind of the alleged scam was finally arrested on March 30, 2018 in Bangkok.
Post his arrest, multiple chargesheets were filed against him across the country — Pune, Chandigarh, Mumbai, and Delhi. Consequently, Bhardwaj filed multiple bail pleas in various courts including Chandigarh and the Supreme Court — but so far not managed to get any respite.
Besides Bhardwaj and his brother, many more names came into light including Hemant Vishwas, Hemant Babasaheb Chavan, Ajay Tanaji Saheb, Pankaj Srinandkishore and Chandrakant Bhope. The police has also arrested the founders of the Gurugram-based startup, Darwin Labs – Nikunj Jain and Sahil Baghla – who were reportedly partners of Amit Bhardwaj in his CoinBank venture. Some of the accused are still absconding.
Amit Bhardwaj: No Interim Bail Till Date
Since his arrest, Bhardwaj and his lawyers have created a lot of noise over his ailing health. And Bhardwaj has been skipping court hearings due to this since December 2018, including a hearing at the Pune Court on December 15, 2018 and the Chandigarh Court on December 18, 2018.
Advocate Deepak Prakash who represents Amit Bhardwaj and his brother Vivek Bhardwaj in Supreme Court, told Inc42, “We have filed an interim bail relief plea for both Amit Bhardwaj as well as his brother. However, despite multiple hearings, there has been no developments so far.”
Prakash also informed us that Amit is suffering from kidney failure and is currently admitted in a Jail hospital in Delhi.
In fact, his health condition has been presented as one of the main grounds for his bail plea. In his argument in the Supreme Court, advocate Krishnan Venugopal (one of his lawyers) on December 13, 2018 had stated that Bhardwaj has HCV (Hepatitis C Virus) positive condition.
At the time, Bhardwaj was admitted in Apollo, Delhi.
Hearing the bail plea on March 27, the Supreme Court has demanded Bhardwaj’s medical reports for the next hearing scheduled for April 3, 2019.
According to the copy of his AIIMS medical report dated March 9, 2019, seen by Inc42 Amit Bhardwaj’s hepatitis is now treated and cured. Bhardwaj has also received a kidney transplant is currently taking immunity-suppressing drugs, the report mentioned.
The kidney function test results are normal and hence there is a high probability that the Supreme Court might dismiss his bail plea.
Out Of The Court Settlements
One of the petitioners from Delhi told Inc42, “Associates of Amit Bhardwaj have also been in touch with petitioners for an out of court settlement. While, in principle, he has agreed to return the principal amount in Bitcoin, the petitioners have not been on the same page so far.”
“Some of the petitioners have agreed to the offer, some have differed in terms of the Bitcoin being offered, as its value has changed over the years,” the person said.
However, as of now, there is no consensus among petitioners on an out of court settlement.
One of the petitioners from Chandigarh told Inc42, “The chargesheet filed by the Chandigarh police, in fact, has weakened their case.”
“Some of the accused, despite shreds of evidence provided by us were not even mentioned in the chargesheet,” a source on condition of anonymity told Inc42.
However, advocate Ameya Dange who is representing Nisha Raisoni (one of the petitioners) in the Amit Bhardwaj case, said, “As far as the Pune chargesheets are concerned, Pune Police has done a good job by including all the minute details of the case.”
According to a report, three petitioners in the case have even demanded that the case should be handed over to CBI.
What About The Rest?
Earlier on August 4, 2018, a local Chandigarh Court had granted interim bail to a co-accused Rajesh Jain to perform the last rites of his deceased father. Rajesh Jain and Sanchit, reportedly developers at Amit Bhardwaj’s company were arrested on May 24 by the Pune Police. On September 20, a local court of Chandigarh granted bail to Sanchit.
Out of the three founders of Gurugram-based Darwin Lab — Ayush Varshney, Sahil Baghla And Nikunj Jain — who are accused of receiving 20% cut in Bhardwaj’s venture, while Baghla and Jain have been in jail for the last 11 months, Varshney never got arrested and was later granted interim relief by Bombay High Court.
Another accused in the case, Rupesh Singh got interim protection from Bombay High Court, while some of the accused are still absconding, added Dange.
Meanwhile, Divyesh Darji — who is accused of running another Bitcoin-based scam under the name of Bitconnnect estimated to be anywhere between $3 Bn to $12.7 Bn has failed the amount of attention, that Amit Bhardwaj has garnered. With media having made it a high profile case, an escape for the Bhardwaj seems unlikely from here.
Inc42 is closely tracking the case and will keep you posted about the same. Besides, we will also bring you a series of stories of the people who lost their money in these MLM schemes. Stay tuned for more updates.