KUNDRA SENT TO POLICE CUSTODY, COPS SAY HE IS ‘KEY CONSPIRATOR’ - The Daily Guardian
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KUNDRA SENT TO POLICE CUSTODY, COPS SAY HE IS ‘KEY CONSPIRATOR’

Preeti Sompura

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A day after arresting businessman Raj Kundra, husband of actor Shilpa Shetty, the Mumbai Police on Tuesday arrested his aide Ryan Thorpe in a snowballing scandal involving the production and streaming of porn films. Both of them have been remanded in police custody till 23 July.

The police described Raj Kundra, 45, as a “key conspirator” in the case and said it had sufficient evidence against him. “There was a case registered with the Crime Branch Mumbai in February 2021 about creation of pornographic films and publishing them through some apps. We’ve arrested Mr Raj Kundra in this case on 19/7/21 as he appears to be the key conspirator of this. We have sufficient evidence regarding this,” Mumbai police commissioner said in a statement on Monday evening. Meanwhile, joint police commissioner crime Milind Bharambe addressed a press conference and said: “We will check Shilpa Shetty’s role also in this matter. Till now Rs 7.5 crore has been seized from Raj Kundra.”

In an explosive disclosure, a struggling model Jennifer Kirti Singh has revealed Raj Kundra’s alleged corporate secrets. Raj Kundra’s father Bal Krishnan Kundra and one UK-based businessman Pardeep Bakshi—the current owner (only on paper) of a UK-based shell company that owned the Hotshots app, (which hosted live strip shows and porn content) of the entity Hotshots Digital Entertainment, was further owned by Kenrin Limited, a UK based company—were earlier both directors in a UK trading company Python Trading Ltd. This information has been obtained from Companies House, the UK government agency, the counterpart of the Indian ROC or Registrar of Companies and is a matter of online records, Kirti Singh has said.

Both Pardeep Bakshi and Raj’s father Bal Krishnan Kundra are known to each other and can be called “family friends”. So, in 2019, Raj Kundra invested Rs 10 crore in a Mumbai software firm Armsprime Media, which developed the Hotshots App along with apps for hundreds of models like Sherlyn Chopra, Poonam Pandey, Gehana Vasisth, etc. This was prominently publicised by Armsprime Media via official press releases. Most of the content featured on these apps was soft or semi porn or erotica.

Later, Raj Kundra exited and took out or divested his Rs 10 crore investment from Armsprime Media, as it was a crime and illegal to create or deal or transmit or publish porn in India. But why let go of the profits? So, he transferred the ownership of Hotshots app to Kenrin Limited, whose sole director is Pardeep Bakshi who is known to Raj Kundra’s father and can be called a “family friend”. Bakshi, a British citizen, is the benami owner on behalf of Kundra, of Hotshots and Kenrin Limited. Not surprising that Kundra’s BSE listed company Viaan Industries Ltd’s Managing Director Umesh Kamat (earlier arrested by Crime Branch) was selling/transmitting the porn videos to Kenrin Ltd. He was actually uploading the video files on to Kenrin servers, from where they were automatically loaded or transferred on to the Hotshots app.

UK-based Kenrin Limited’s apps and servers were run by people like Umesh Kamat in India using proxy servers, VPNs, tunneling and other technology to mask their origin IP addresses. Using software scripts and automated software, the entire business was run from an office located on the 7th floor of a commercial building opposite Infinity Mall, Lokhandwala at Andheri west.

Only to avoid legal responsibility for the pornographic content, ownership of Kenrin Ltd is shown as UK-based and owned by a British citizen Pardeep Bakshi. Bakshi has visited India and attended seminars and conferences on digital media, etc, in the past. The real owner of Kenrin Limited is allegedly Raj Kundra, while “family friend” Pardeep Bakshi is just a benami proxy only listed in the records of the UK companies’ registrar, Companies House. Raj Kundra is also a British citizen and businessman allegedly owning hundreds of shell companies across the world.

In addition to the above, the content providers like Yasmeen alias Rowa Khan (who were arrested earlier) had contracts signed with the UK-based Kenrin Ltd and facilitated through Mumbai-based Umesh Kamat who was Raj Kundra’s Managing Director (in Viaan Industries Ltd). Umesh Kamat was running the business of Kenrin, both in India and the UK, while Bakshi remained an owner on paper only to sign the reports and filings for the UK regulator, which were prepared by accountants.

There is a lot of foreign currency circulation by these companies, which needs further investigation, Kirti Singh has alleged. Besides, Raj Kundra’s company Viaan Industries Ltd (VIL) is a publicly listed company and listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange. Raj Kundra is the Chairman and main stake holder, while arrested accused Umesh Kamat is the (paid) MD as per information with the Bombay Stock Exchange. As per BSE rules, if any senior management official is arrested particularly the MD, BSE has to be informed immediately. This was not at all done when Umesh Kamat was arrested, though Kundra’s legal team claimed that Umesh was sacked. But the Stock Exchange was never informed though it was mandatory as per law. The “sacking” statement was only cosmetic, like cosmetic surgeries to evade criminal responsibility.

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BILL AND MELINDA GATES ARE OFFICIALLY DIVORCED

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WASHINGTON: The divorce between Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates has been finalised. As per CNN report, filing with the King County Superior Court in Washington made the move official. Melinda French Gates filed the petition for divorce in King County, Washington.

Bill and Melinda announced in May that they would be ending their marriage after 27 years, saying, “we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”

However, the duo said they will continue to work together at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Meanwhile, the foundation said last month that the organisation was planning a two-year trial period to see if the pair could continue working together effectively.

“If after two years either decide they cannot continue to work together as co-chairs, French Gates will resign her position as co-chair and trustee,” CEO Mark Suzman said. In the weeks following the initial announcement of the divorce, Bill faced allegations of questionable workplace conduct in the early years at Microsoft.

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BLINKEN ANNOUNCES US REFUGEE ADMISSIONS PROGRAMME FOR AFGHAN NATIONALS

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a US refugee admissions programme Priority 2 designation for Afghan nationals on Monday. The US is weeks away from completing military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Blinken, during a press briefing, said, “The State Department is announcing a new resettlement program for Afghans who assisted the United States, but who do not qualify for special immigrant visas. We’ve created a Priority-2 or P-2 designation, granting access to the US refugee admissions program for many of these Afghans and their family members.”

He said that even as the US forces withdraw from Afghanistan, the US will remain deeply engaged with the country.

“We’ll continue to work toward an Afghanistan, where all Afghans can live in safety and security, and we will continue our support for Afghan institutions, and for the gains that the Afghan people have made over the past 20 years,” said Blinken.

“We will keep engaging intensely in diplomacy to advance negotiations between the Afghan government, the Taliban, with the goal of a political solution, which we believe is the only path to lasting peace. And we’ll keep working closely with countries in the region, which all have a stake in a stable, peaceful, democratic Afghanistan,” he stated.

Blinken said that Afghans who work with the United States or the International Security Assistance Force at some point since 2001 are facing acute fears of persecution or retribution that will likely grow as coalition forces leave the country.

He further added that “We have a special report the responsibility to these individuals. They stood with us. We will stand with them. Over the past 13 years, the State Department has issued more than 73,000 Special Immigrant Visas to eligible Afghans who have helped the United States, and also to their families. We’ll continue to welcome Afghan immigrants and refugees as our neighbours in gratitude for helping us, despite the danger. We won’t forget it.”

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AFGHAN PRESIDENT GHANI’S TIME HAS RUN OUT: TALIBAN

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KABUL: Taliban said that Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani’s “time has run out” on Monday. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, while reacting to Ghani’s remark that the ongoing war is an external intrigue imposed on the people of Afghanistan, accused the President of lying and spreading false information.

A tweet by Mujahid said that his (Ghani’s) time is over and the announcement of warfare will not survive him. “Speech by @ashrafghani is nonsense, an attempt to control his fears & dire situation. Nation has decided to pursue & bring national traitors to justice. Declarations of war, accusations & lies cannot prolong Ghani’s life, his time has run out, God willing,” said Mujahid. 

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INDIA WANTS PEACEFUL RELATIONS, ONUS IS ON PAKISTAN: TIRUMURTI

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WASHINGTON: India’s Permanent Representative to United Nations, T.S. Tirumurti said that India desires to have peaceful and normal relations with Pakistan but in an atmosphere free from terror.

The Indian Ambassador to the UN informed that issues between the two countries should be resolved in an atmosphere free from terror, hostility, and violence and the onus is on Pakistan to create such an environment. “Pakistan should take credible and verifiable action not to allow any territory under their control to be used for cross border terrorism against India,” said Tirumurti. He also informed that India wants to keep a spotlight on counter-terrorism.

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US-China seek alignment of Afghan interests: Ned Price

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price has said that China’s interest in Afghanistan could be ‘an alignment of interest’ when it comes to what the US and China seek in Afghanistan.

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The People’s Republic of China (PRC) interest in Afghanistan could be “an alignment of interest” when it comes to what the US and China seek in Afghanistan, said US State Department spokesperson Ned Price on Monday. “There’s an alignment of interest in at least some areas when it comes to what we seek, what China seeks and what the broader international community seeks in Afghanistan,” Price told ANI on being asked what is US’ assessment of meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Taliban delegation led by its Chief Negotiator Abdul Ghani Baradar.

Experts say thay although the US might once have fiercely resisted Chinese attempts to increase their influence inside Afghanistan, now Washington’s priority appears to keep away a civil war. Spokesperson Price also affirmed that is in no one’s interest to see Afghanistan descend into an all-out civil war. “It is in everyone’s interest to see a solution to the conflict that is just as durable as Afghan-led, and Afghan Owned,” he concluded.

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AMID COVID PANDEMIC, PMGKY REDUCES WORRIES OF THE POOR: PM MODI

Abhijit Bhatt

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Gandhinagar: Annotsav Day was celebrated on Tuesday on the occasion of the completion of five years of the Rupani government, as part of which a state-level program was organized in Dahod district in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a virtual dialogue with the beneficiaries of the grain welfare scheme. He asked whether the beneficiaries of Dahod and Rajkot have any problem in taking up the scheme or not. Modi said in a dialogue with the beneficiaries that the poor would get free foodgrains till Diwali. Modi praised the performance of the Gujarat government.

Prime Minister’s Poor Welfare Food Scheme is being praised all over the world. More than Rs 2 crore is being spent by the government under this scheme. The aim is that not a single person in India goes to bed hungry. Under this scheme, ration cardholders are being given double the amount of foodgrains than before. The plan is to run till Diwali.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday addressed the beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana and said this scheme has reduced the worries of the poor and increased their confidence. Three and a half crore beneficiaries in Gujarat are getting the benefit of free foodgrains. “I commend the Gujarat government for this. Preference is given to workers from other parts of the country. Workers have benefited from this scheme. Gujarat is the first to offer the benefit of One Nation One Ration Card,” said the Prime Minister.

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