Veteran Actor Govinda Responds To Likely Questioning By Odisha EOW In Rs 1K-Cr Crypto Scam
Bhubaneswar/Mumbai: Amid reports that Economic Offences Wing of Odisha Crime Branch may summon veteran Bollywood actor Govinda in connection with the Rs 1,000 crore pan-India online Ponzi scam, the latter denied having done any ads or endorsed/publicised anyone.
“I have neither done ads for anyone nor endorsed, favoured or publicised anyone. The photographs being circulated were taken at a function,” he told TOI while declining to comment further on the issue.
The actor had reportedly endorsed Solar Techno Alliance (STA-Token), found guilty of illegally operating a huge Ponzi multi-level marketing scheme in the garb of crypto token, in a few promotional videos. “We will soon send a team to Mumbai to question filmstar Govinda who had attended STA’s grand function in Goa in July and promoted the company in some videos,” EOW inspector general J N Pankaj had earlier told the national daily.
Pankaj, however, clarified that the veteran actor is neither a suspect nor an accused. “If we find that his role was limited to only endorsement of the product (STAToken brand) as per their business agreement, then we will make him a witness in our case,” he added.
Govinda was the chief guest STA’s glittering promotional event held in Goa on July 30 this year. At the luxurious star hotel, more than 1,000 up-line members, including many from Odisha, were present.
Deputy Superintendent of Police of EOW Sasmita Sahoo told the media that the promoters had spent Rs 1.3 crore on the event and Govinda’s presence had helped create trust among potential investors. “Basically, we want to know his nature of involvement in the Ponzi scheme and the persons who came in contact with him,” she added.
Launched in 2021, the STA operated through website and social media accounts. The EOW blew the lid off the pan-India cryptocurrency scam, involving deposits of more than Rs 1,000 crore from over 2 lakh people across several states, including Odisha, last month. The company had reportedly collected Rs 30 crore from 10,000 people in Bhadrak, Keonjhar, Balasore, Mayurbhanj and Bhubaneswar.
The company’s country and Odisha heads, Gurtej Singh Sidhu and Nirod Das, respectively, were arrested on August 7. Ratnakar Palai, an important and up-line member of STA having huge number of members below him (known as down-line members in the MLM/pyramid-based schemes/scams), was nabbed on August 16. The Bureau Of Immigration also issued a lookout circular (LOC) against David Gez, 32, a Hungarian national who headed a company, on August 19. The EOW is said to have also learnt about the involvement of second foreigner, a Dutch national, in the scam.
Investors were lured on social media to invest in cryptocurrency and encouraged to enrol more investors under them. The company also offered an incentive to members to build the networks, sources said.