Raj Kundra

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A brief biography

1975- 2021

Raj Kundra’s journey so far: From a bus conductor’s son to a multi-millionaire businessman/ Jul 23, 2021/ India Times- The Times of India

Raj Kundra, Some facts as in July 2015; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India

'Live life on your terms' is a motto businessman Raj Kundra swears by.

From a bus conductor’s son to a multi-millionaire, his success story is pretty fascinating but of course, riddled with controversies.

His father Bal Krishan Kundra moved from Ludhiana to London and worked as a bus conductor before becoming a middle-class businessman. His mother Usha Rani Kundra used to be a shop assistant.

Raj Kundra though had different plans and bigger dreams for himself since a very young age.

Born on 9 September 1975 in London, Raj Kundra also known as Ripu Sudan Kundra took the first step of his journey to become a millionaire at the age of 18. A college dropout, he started his business career as a Pashmina shawl trader in the UK.

He made his first million by selling those shawls to all the major fashion houses in Britain. From there on, he never looked back. After the successful Pashmina shawl venture, he moved to the business of diamonds in Dubai, becoming the 198th richest British Asian by the year 2004, as per the ranking given by a popular UK magazine. Amid his successful business career, he decided to get married and tied the knot with first wife Kavita in the year 2003 but they parted ways in 2006.

However, the very next year, Raj met Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty who at that time had shot to global fame by winning the British reality show 'Big Brother' and they fell in love. Raj, who walked out of his first marriage, leaving a new-born daughter with her mother, tied the knot with the stunning actress in 2009.

By this time, Raj had already started taking interest in producing Bollywood movies and financing them, too. After starting 'Super Fight League' in 2012, he launched Viaan Industries in 2014 and became the Chairman and Non-Executive Director of the company. Not only this, he even became one of the promoters of an Indian home shopping channel along with the actor Akshay Kumar. He along with his wife Shilpa Shetty also invested in the Rajasthan Royals franchise of the Indian Premier League and become the co-owners but his name cropped up in the infamous IPL betting scandal, for which he was banned for life from cricket activities.

Later, in the year 2018, he was also interrogated by the Enforcement Directorate for his involvement in a Bitcoin scam. However, despite all such controversies, by this time, Raj Kundra was counted among the most successful businessmen in the world with a net worth estimated to be around $550 million


Till July 2021

Karishma Upadhyay/ How scandals have shadowed Shilpa Shetty's hubby/ Jul 21, 2021/ India Times- The Times of India

Raj Kundra, who was arrested by the Mumbai Crime Branch earlier this week for producing porn films, is no stranger to controversy. A look at how the South London-born businessman has become the talk of town

On late July 19, the property cell of the Mumbai Crime Branch arrested businessman Raj Kundra in connection with a pornography racket busted by Mumbai Police earlier this year, when a bungalow in Madh, Malad (West) was raided. Five individuals were arrested on February 4 for allegedly luring young women and men on the pretext of working in web series and short films, but forcing them to make pornography instead. In a statement released to the press, Mumbai Police said that Raj Kundra appears to be the “key conspirator”. “We have sufficient evidence regarding the case.” When the news started trending online, no was really surprised. After all, this is not Kundra’s first brush with the law.

A college drop-out, the South-London born Kundra moved to India only after he married actor Shilpa Shetty in 2009. The couple met after her successful stint on Celebrity Big Brother in the UK. Kundra started by handling her perfume business and the production of Miss Bollywood, a stage extravagance she starred in and travelled with her through Europe in 2007. While being a part of a high-profile relationship brought him to a new country and opened new doors for Kundra, it also meant that there was more scrutiny into all aspects of his life, starting with his businesses.

In the early years of their relationship, Shetty often described him as an entrepreneur and one of the richest Indians in the UK, while Kundra rarely spoke publicly and little or nothing was known about his businesses. There were some vague mentions of companies that traded in diamonds and import-export, but the couple maintained that producing Bollywood films was where their future lay. That plan didn’t really materialise, though.

Controversy man

Their first big financial investment as a couple was as co-owners of Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Rajasthan Royals in 2009. Player auctions, private jets to view matches and post-match parties — the couple quickly became an integral part of the IPL juggernaut. As he grew more comfortable under the spotlight, Kundra began to branch out. He wrote a novel, ‘based on a real story’, titled How Not to Make Money that was published by Random House. And, launched a series of unrelated, but celebrity-led businesses. He also ventured into the home shopping space with Best Deal TV along with Akshay Kumar in 2015. He replicated the ‘league format’ with other sports and launched Super Fight League, an MMA-style tournament in partnership with Sanjay Dutt in 2012. This was followed by the Match Indian Poker League, a regulated poker tournament, launched in 2017. All three of these businesses have either faded away or lie dormant today.

It was the most visible of all his ventures where Kundra first ran afoul with the law. When the infamous IPL betting scandal broke in 2013, his was one of the big names involved along with the then-ICC chief N Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan and RR cricketers S Sreesanth, Ajith Chandila and Ankeet Chavan. The police stated that Kundra would place bets via the team coowner Umesh Goenka. As a result, Kundra was suspended from all cricket-related activities for life and RR was also banned for two years. In 2018, however, he was given a clean chit by the Delhi Police.

Kundra has been in troubled waters quite regularly in the years since. In 2018, he was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate in connection to a crypto-currency scam to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore. In 2019, he was questioned by the Enforcement Directorate in Mumbai during an investigation in the Prevention of Money Laundering case against Dawood Ibrahim’s aide and late drug trafficker Iqbal Mirchi.

Troubles catch up

2020, as the pandemic hit the world, the couple welcomed their second child Samisha, who was born via surrogacy. Kundra entertained his 700k followers on Instagram with videos where he morphs into Ranveer Singh or Iron Man. On the surface, things could not have looked any happier for the Shetty-Kundras, but the multiple legal issues they were facing had begun to catch up.

There was a police complaint of cheating and fraud concerning Satyug Gold Pvt Ltd, a gold trading company, where they are exdirectors. They were also summoned by the Ballard Pier magistrate’s court for delay in the payment of tax deducted at source (TDS) by the company Best Deal TV.

Significantly, the investigation by Maharashtra Cyber Cell for obscene content also started last year. And this is where Kundra seems to have dug himself deeper than he had ever done before. In 2019, he invested in the tech start-up Armsprime Media that built and monetised celebrity apps. Among Armsprime Media’s clients were models Poonam Pandey, Sherlyn Chopra and Gehana Vasisth.

Among those arrested in February was Rowa Khan alias Yasmeen, who claimed to be a producer-director. The police later learnt that Khan runs a mobile app called HotHit Movies, where porn videos are uploaded. Interestingly, Armsprime is the company that developed and monetised apps like HotHit Movies and HotShots. Mumbai Police has said that Kundra’s name came up during the investigations in connection to his links to the company that hosted pornographic films on digital platforms. There is a related case where Maharashtra Cyber Cell had issued an FIR against 14 web portals and streaming services for obscene content in 2020. One of the apps belonged to Armsprime Media for which Chopra shot a film titled Chocolate in December of 2019. In her statement to the Bombay High Court in April 2021, Chopra said she was told to “let go of my inhibitions and open up like Hollywood models”. It was Chopra who mentioned Kundra’s involvement in the company in her statement. When summoned by the Cyber Cell, the businessman maintained that he had exited the company in 2020, though he did apply for anticipatory bail in June 2021.

Kundra has only in recent years started talking about his rags-to-riches journey, references to which often come up in his rajmantras Instagram account. In one post he wrote, “When you have made it from scratch nothing can stop you ever! Money might not buy happiness but it gives you the freedom, opportunities and options. Never give up!” (sic)

As the 45-year-old spends the next few days in police custody, he might want to think about that other famous quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson — “Money often costs too much”.

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