ED initiates money laundering probe against Raj Kundra, others in alleged porn films case


PTI, May 19, 2022, 5:34 PM IST

The ED has launched an anti-money-laundering investigation into an alleged pornographic films case in which businessman Raj Kundra and others were arrested by the Mumbai Police crime branch in 2021, officials said on Thursday.

The federal agency has filed a complaint under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after studying at least two police first information reports (FIRs) and subsequent charge sheets before a court. Kundra, husband of Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty, and his associate Ryan Thorpe were arrested and later granted bail in the case. A few others were arrested too.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) will specifically look into the trail of funds and alleged proceeds of crime that could have been generated by the accused and others in the case related to the creation and sale of these films, officials said. Kundra,46, was arrested by the Mumbai police crime branch last year after being booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Information Technology Act and the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act.

The businessman had told a local Mumbai court last year that there was not even an iota of evidence with the prosecution that would connect the app ‘Hotshots’, used in the alleged porn films racket, with an offence under the law. According to the probe agency, the ‘Hotshots’ app was being used by the accused for uploading and streaming obscene content. Kundra had claimed there was no evidence of him being ”actively” involved in the creation of alleged questionable porn content.

He had said he was falsely implicated and was not even named in the FIR and was dragged by the respondent (police) in the case.

The businessman claimed in the plea that he is being made a ”scapegoat” for reasons best known to investigators. The police had filed FIRs on the basis of complaints received from two women.

During the investigation it came to light that some small-time artistes were lured by giving them breaks in some web series or short stories, police had said. These actors were called for auditions and were asked to give ‘bold’ scenes, which later turned out to be semi-nude or nude scenes, that were against the wishes of the actors, the official had said. During the police investigation, it also came to light that there were many porn-like apps (applications) that were operating in cyberspace. The police had told the court that its probe found that Kundra allegedly set up Armsprime Media Pvt Ltd, which, through London-based Kenrin Pvt Ltd, bought the Hot Shots app to upload ”objectionable videos” on social media. Kundra’s phone contained WhatsApp chats regarding Kenrin and its economic transactions. These conversations also revealed that he had allegedly discussed selling 119 adult films to a person for USD 1.2 million, police had said.

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