The $300 million Gainbitcoin scam mastermind Amit Bhardwaj’s bail was challenged by the victims on the grounds of violation of the terms of the bail. But the court took a different stance.
Amit Bhardwaj is one of the orchestrators of the Gainbitcoin scam. His several associates have been out on bail. Victims alleged he violated the terms of the bail and demand revocation.
The scam is believed to have duped approximately 8000 crypto enthusiasts.
The Gainbitcoin Scam
Gainbitcoin was a fraud company operating a Ponzi multi-level marketing scheme (MLM).
They used to guarantee a 10% monthly return on Bitcoin investments for 18 months under the (MLM) schemes. Investors were lured to lend the company bitcoins and were promised to increase their investments in the aforementioned period.
But bitcoin’s supply is finite, so how can someone mint more bitcoins? Bhardwaj used to claim that he owns a bitcoin mining facility called GBMiners. The mining firm was also a felonious company whose whereabouts were never known.
Investors never received their bitcoins back as he later changed the payout policy. The principal and the interest were returned in a currency called MCAP. It was reportedly founded by Gainbitcoin’s founders and was also a Ponzi scheme. That’s why several FIRs were lodged against him, and he began absconding.
His Arrest and Investigation
Amit Bhardwaj has been known to evade the authorities. Bhardwaj had fled to Dubai when authorities came after him. To escape deportation from Dubai he feigned a heart attack on March 30, 2018, and fled to Thailand. However, he was finally nabbed there on April 4, 2018, with the help of the Thai government, as claimed in a News18 report. Later, he was brought to Pune where the investigative and legal proceedings finally began. Pune Police had filed two separate charge-sheets against him and eight others.
As per a report from Times of India (ToI) published on September 21, 2018, the Enforcement Directorate had attached Amit Bhardwaj’s properties worth INR 43 crores, including 6 offices in Dubai.
The report had also mentioned the involvement of prominent businessman Raj Kundra, husband of actor Shilpa Shetty. While studying the scammer’s transactions ED officials came across Raj Kundra. The British-Indian businessman has always maintained that he’s one of the witnesses in the case.
Court proceedings and bail appeal
He has been on interim bail due to his underlying kidney ailments as the Supreme Court observed in a ruling on April 24, 2019, “Considering his health condition, we direct exemption from personal appearance in all these Courts and for till the next date of hearing.”
The court had then directed both Bhardwaj and his brother to deposit their personal bonds. Amit Bhardwaj was asked to deposit a personal bond of INR 1 Lakh and INR 10 Cr in the next six months, whereas his brother Vivek Bhardwaj was asked to deposit INR 1 Cr within six months.
Victims have accused Bhardwaj of contempt of court and not meeting the bail requirements. His lawyer claimed that the bail bond amount has been deposited as directed as per an Inc42 report.
As per a report by Outlook, “one of the victims has filed an application in the SC and alleged that Bhardwaj misused bail conditions by threatening and intimidating investors of dire consequences.”
“When multiple FIRs were filed in several states, we approached the Supreme Court from exemption from personal appearance and that’s how the matter reached the Supreme Court. Later we filed a bail petition also,” the victim added.
The hearing, wherein the bail was contested, was held on August 12. The Supreme Court, in its order, said,
“FDR be renewed for a further period of six months from the due date of its maturity.”Supreme Court of India
So, his bail was extended by the Supreme Court for six months. After the bail period is over, the Court will again hear the matter and take the next decision.
The person from the Outlook report has also claimed, “There are 21 known FIRs and we believe there might be some more which we are not aware of. The number of total victims is over 100 and the total amount.”
His associates too are being prosecuted in various courts and states of India. One of the accused, Rajiv Rana, had sought anticipatory bail, but his plea was rejected by a local court as reported by The Tribune.
Just like society and its ways have evolved, so have scams. Scammers will find one way or the other to dupe innocent people. Only awareness of these crypto scams can shield one from such malicious actors.
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