Money & Banking

ED to probe ₹2,000-cr fraud via Bitcoin Ponzi scheme

PTI Mumbai | Updated on March 14, 2018

The Maharashtra government on Wednesday said the Enforcement Directorate (ED) would probe the alleged scam of duping investors to the tune of ₹2,000 crore with Ponzi schemes through the GainBitcoin website.

In this connection, a lookout notice has been issued for GainBitcoin founder Amit Bhardwaj, who has fled the country, Minister of State for Home Ranjit Patil said.

A case was also filed at a police station in Nanded on January 24, 2018, in connection with the scam, he said.

Patil was replying to a discussion on the issue raised through a calling attention notice by Rahul Kul (of the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha) and others.

“The matter of duping of several investors with Ponzi schemes through Gainbitcoin website would be probed by the ED,” the minister said.

He said Bhardwaj and his associates allegedly duped investors to the tune of ₹2,000 crore in Mumbai, Pune, Nanded, Kolhapur and other places in the State.

Another accused, Amolkumar Thombale, has been arrested while two other accused — Balaji Panchal and Raju Motewar — are absconding, he said.

The police have sealed the bank accounts of the accused and also seized ₹6 crore, Patil added. BJP MLA Ashish Shelar told reporters outside the Assembly that some companies allegedly lured people from Nanded and other areas to invest in Bitcoins, promising high returns.

“The owners of these companies are now on the run and investors feel cheated,” he said. “There should be a thorough inquiry by the Enforcement Directorate in the matter,” Shelar said.

Kul said Bhardwaj had formed the company and invited investments in Bitcoins.

The company’s directors also allegedly transferred investors’ money into their own accounts, which is illegal, Kul said.

Published on March 14, 2018

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