India: Interim Bail Granted to Two Brothers Accused in $300 Mln Crypto Ponzi Scheme

The Supreme Court of India has granted interim bail to two brothers who are among the chief suspects accused of running a Bitcoin (BTC)-related Ponzi scheme. The development was reported by Indian tech startup news source Inc42 on April 3.

Amit Bhardwaj and his brother, Vivek Bharadwaj, have succeeded in their appeal for interim bail, which they had reportedly requested in November 2018, with Amit asked to deposit ₹10 crores (~$1.5 million) for the bail, Inc42 writes.

As previously reported, the Bhardwaj brothers had been arrested on April 4, 2018 for allegedly defrauding around 8,000 investors out of ₹2,000 crores (about $300 million) via the GainBitcoin scheme, which they co-founded in 2013. Speaking of the Supreme Court’s latest decision, Bhardwaj’s lawyer, Deepak Prakash, has reportedly clarified that:

“While Amit Bhardwaj has been granted interim bail based on his health ground, the Supreme Court granted bail to his brother, purely based on the merits of the case.”

A decision on the brothers’ further request — that the court cancel all 12 existing cases listed against them across multiple states in India — has been deferred until a later Supreme Court hearing, reportedly likely to be held on April 27.

Moreover, Inc42 reports that Amit Bhardwaj’s hearing at the Supreme Court has now been delayed until April 22, having initially been set for April 2. A lawyer representing Nisha Raisoni —  one of the petitioners against Amit Bhardwaj — reportedly stated that the matter had not come up for hearing at the originally intended date.

Inc42 notes that not only the the Bhardwaj brothers, but also three other suspects —  Ayush Varshney, Rupesh Singh and Sanchit — have all succeeded in having their interim bail requests approved to date.

In regard to three founders whose startup, Darwin Lab, is alleged to have taken a 20 percent cut from Bhardwaj’s scheme, Inc24 reports that two of the three, Sahil Baghla And Nikunj Jain, have been in jail for the past eleven months. The third, Ayush Varshney, was reportedly never arrested and was later granted interim relief by the Bombay High Court.

As Cointelegraph has previously reported, the Bhardwaj brothers’ scheme is alleged to have been a Ponzi scheme that guaranteed 10 percent monthly returns, a claim not realized by investors. It also issued its own MCAP token in an initial coin offering (ICO) that is considered fraudulent due to the company’s price manipulation.

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