Mumbai: The Maharashtra government on Wednesday said the Enforcement Directorate (ED) would probe the alleged scam of duping investors to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore with Ponzi marketing 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 Rs 2,000 crore in Mumbai, Pune, Nanded, Kolhapur and other places in the state. “The main accused, Bhardwaj, has fled the country and a lookout notice has been issued for him,” he said. Another accused, Amolkumar Thombale, has been arrested while two other accused – Balaji Panchal, Raju Motewar – are absconding, he said.
The police has sealed the bank accounts of the accused and also seized Rs six 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, while promising higher returns. “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. “As per my estimates, he has gone abroad and Rs 2,000 crore of thousands of investors are stuck,” he alleged. The company’s directors also allegedly transferred the investors’ money into their own accounts, which is illegal, Kul said. Kul represents the Daund Assembly constituency in Pune district and his party is a part of the BJP-led government in Maharashtra.