Mumbai News: 'ED Man Threatened Me With My Child’s Photo', Says Simpy Bhardwaj; Accused In Bitcoin Ponzi Scam

Mumbai News: 'ED Man Threatened Me With My Child’s Photo', Says Simpy Bhardwaj; Accused In Bitcoin Ponzi Scam

The PMLA court reserved the order on Bhardwaj’s bail plea.

Charul Shah JoshiUpdated: Friday, March 29, 2024, 01:07 AM IST
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In the infamous Rs6,606 crore bitcoin-based ponzi scam involving Delhi-based company Variabletech Pvt Ltd, arrested accused Simpy Bhardwaj has told the special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court that she was threatened in custody during interrogation by an ED officer with her infant son’s photo. The scam involved alleged collection of 80,000 bitcoins and its diversion through nine overseas firms to purchase properties abroad.

Bhardwaj spoke about the threat during her argument (o Thursday), wherein she contended that the ED officer threatened to implicate her father and her brother in the case. The video was played in the court on Thursday but  was not very legible owing to an echo. Notably, the ED after this interrogation arrested her brother Nitin Gaur too in the matter. Bhardwaj was arrested by the ED on December 17, 2023  and remanded to their custody on December 26.

Her lawyer Abad Ponda claimed that on that day itself she raised the issue and confided in her lawyers, who immediately moved a plea for CCTV footage of the interrogation room. The footage was placed on record the very next day but was kept in a sealed envelope. It was played in the court on Thursday. 

Allegations of Induced False Statements And Clarification On Interrogator's Role

In her bail plea, Bhardwaj also pointed out that the officer went on to induce her in making a false statement that her husband Ajay Bhardwaj had an extramarital affair while she suffered in custody.

In response, ED prosecutor Kavita Patil claimed that the interrogator was a forensic auditor of bitcoins and is on the ED contract for handling technicalities. She said this was an informal interaction after Bhardwaj had already signed her statement. “There was no intention to threaten her. The man was just trying to make her understand that her son is her real ‘bitcoin’ and she should cooperate with the investigation,” Patil said.

Claims And Alleged Illegal Interrogation

Ponda, however, rejected the claim of “mere interaction” and said that apart from this video there is no record of her being questioned or the statement being recorded based on this interrogation. He called it “illegal” and “against the constitutional right of the woman”. Ponda said that after the alleged incident, the ED recorded three separate statements from her under the provisions of PMLA.

The court later questioned the prosecution as to how a man, who was not an investigating officer, was allowed to question and interrogate a woman and that too by showing her child’s picture. The court then reserved the order on Bhardwaj’s bail plea.

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