The Enforcement Directorate, which initiated a money laundering probe after the Mumbai police named businessman Raj Kundra in an alleged pornography racket in May 2022, has not found any direct link between Kundra and the pornography racket.
ED focuses on the money trail
The ED is focusing on the money trail linked to various bank transactions of a UK-based company, Kenrin, which is associated with several shell companies connected to money laundering, according to official sources.
The federal agency found that Kenrin is owned by Pradeep Bakshi, the official promoter of the HotShot app and brother-in-law of Raj Kundra. This firm is allegedly involved in numerous transactions with shell companies based in India.
In January 2019, Saurabh Kushwah, the founder and CEO of Arms Prime Media Limited, urged Kundra to invest in the company, considering the popularity and business scope of OTT platforms. Kundra accepted the proposal. Kundra was associated with AMPL from February 5, 2019, until December 12 of that year. During this period, they developed the HotShot app.
According to ED sources, this app was later sold to Kenrin for $25,000. However, for the maintenance of the HotShot app, Kundra's company Vihan collaborated with Kenrin. ED sources indicate that they are verifying the bank transactions to determine how, when, and from which accounts substantial amounts of money were moved to the accounts of Vihan and other company accounts for maintenance purposes.
ED is auditing all high-volume transactions in Kundra's bank accounts
The ED is auditing all high-volume transactions in bank accounts associated with Kundra and his companies, including those from shell companies, sources said. It is yet to be established whether the sexual content loaded on the HotShot app's platform is directly linked to Kundra.
Kundra had earlier written a letter to CBI for an investigation in the porn case, claiming that he was being framed. The businessman claimed that the case was being pursued because of the personal vendetta of one businessman who connived with some police officers to have him arrested.
FPJ contacts Kundra's legal team
When FPJ's team contacted Kundra's legal team, his legal advisor Subhangi Satre said that she can’t share the CBI letter details because there are too many names mentioned in the same of the actual people involved in falsely bringing down Mr Kundra. They don't want to comment on anything right now. As Kundra's discharge hearing is at the last stage, they don't want to subjudice the matter.
Last year in August 2022, Kundra filed a discharge application in the Magistrate court, asserting that he was not named in the FIR and had been implicated by the Respondent (crime branch). The applicant Kundra contends that he is being made a scapegoat for reasons known only to the investigating agencies.
Kundra stated that the investigating authority found no evidence to show that money in his accounts was connected to the HotShot App. Moreover, there is no evidence of his involvement in uploading or posting pornographic content on the app.
Background details of case
The Mumbai Crime Branch filed a charge sheet and a supplementary charge sheet between 2019 and 2022 in the pornography racket case against Raj Kundra, the IT head of his company Viaan Industries, Ryan Thorpe, the absconding accused international porn kingpin Yash Thakur alias Arvind Shrivastava, Pradeep Bakshi, Kundra's London-based brother-in-law, two models, filmmaker Meeta Jhunjhunwala, and cameraman Raju Dubey.
According to the charge sheet, Suwajit Chowdhary of Banana Prime OTT and Umesh Kamath, an employee of Kundra, are named as managers in the London-based company HotShot. The crime branch claimed in its charge sheet that Kundra was involved in shooting pornographic films in five-star hotels near Mumbai and selling them to OTT platforms. It also asserted that Kundra earned crores of rupees from this illicit deal.