MUMBAI: After the Mumbai police implicated businessman Raj Kundra in a suspected pornography racket in May 2022, the Enforcement Directorate started a money laundering investigation. However, Kundra and the pornography scam have not been connected directly.
The money trail connected to many bank transactions of a UK-based company called Kenrin which is connected to other shell companies implicated in money laundering is the focus of the ED's investigation, according to official sources.
The federal agency discovered that Raj Kundra's brother-in-law, Pradeep Bakshi, is the owner of Kenrin. Bakshi is the official promoter of the HotShot app. It is believed that this company conducts a lot of business with Indian shell companies.
Given the OTT platforms' widespread use and commercial potential, Arms Prime Media Limited's founder and CEO, Saurabh Kushwah, urged Kundra to invest in the company in January 2019. Kundra agreed to the suggestion. From February 5, 2019, to December 12, 2019, Kundra was linked to AMPL. It was around this time that they developed the HotShot app.
ED sources claim that Kenrin later purchased this app for $25,000. However, Kenrin and Kundra's company Vihan collaborated to maintain the HotShot app. According to ED sources, they are checking the bank transactions to find out how, when, and which accounts large sums of money were transferred from to Vihan's account and other company accounts for maintenance.
According to reports, the ED is auditing all high-volume transactions made in bank accounts associated with Kundra and his companies, including those made through shell corporations. Whether the pornographic content that has been posted onto the HotShot app's platform is directly related to Kundra is yet unknown.
Kundra earlier stated in a letter to the CBI that he was being framed in the porn case and asked for an investigation. The businessman stated that one businessman's personal grudge was the reason the matter was being pursued, claiming that he conspired with some police officers to have him imprisoned.
When the team from the prominent news portal got in touch with Kundra's legal team, his legal adviser Subhangi Satre told them she was unable to disclose the information of the CBI letter since too many real names of the persons who were fraudulently implicated in Mr. Kundra's downfall were mentioned in the same letter. They would prefer not to comment at this time on anything. Since Kundra's hearing for discharge is nearing its conclusion, they do not wish to subjustice the matter.
Kundra filed a discharge plea in August 2022 at the Magistrate court, claiming that the Respondent (criminal branch) had implicated him and that he was not identified in the FIR. Kundra, the petitioner, claims he is being made a scapegoat for reasons that are only being disclosed to the investigative agencies.
According to Kundra, the investigating authorities were unable to provide any proof linking the money in his accounts to the HotShot App. Furthermore, there's no proof that he posted or uploaded any pornographic content on the app.
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 brother-in-law who lives in London, two models, filmmaker Meeta Jhunjhunwala, and cameraman Raju Dubey, the Mumbai Crime Branch filed a charge sheet and a supplementary charge sheet between 2019 and 2022.
The charging sheet names Umesh Kamath, a Kundra employee, and Suwajit Chowdhary of Banana Prime OTT as managers of the London-based company HotShot. In its charge sheet, the crime branch asserted that Kundra was involved in the filming of pornographic films in luxurious hotels near Mumbai, which were then sold to over-the-top (OTT) platforms. It further claimed that Kundra profited millions of rupees from this illegal transaction.
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Credits - Pinkvilla