Raj Kundra is a British-Indian businessman, best known in India for his marriage to Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty, ambitious sports projects, and involvement in several controversies. He comes from a humble NRI family based in London, UK. After gaining success in business and marrying Shetty, Raj Kundra shifted his base to Mumbai, India.
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Early life (1975-1993)
Raj Kundra was born to a Punjabi migrant family in London on 9 September 1975. His father, Bal Krishan Kundra, hails from Bathinda and used to work as a bus conductor before starting a small-scale business. His mother, Usha Rani Kundra, used to work as a shop assistant. As a child, Raj Kundra was quite passionate about sports, particularly cricket and mixed martial arts. He completed school in London and later dropped out of studies to start his business.
Raj Kundra’s business in UK (1993-2004)
At the age of 18, Raj Kundra visited Nepal and realized the business potential held by locally manufactured Pashmina shawls. He set up his first business, importing Pashmina shawls from Nepal and supplying them to major fashion retailers in Britain. The business was a success and helped Kundra make his first few million. In 2004, British magazine ‘Success’ ranked him as the 198th richest British Asian.
Raj Kundra’s first Wife (2004-2007)
In 2003, Raj Kundra married Kavita, the daughter of a UK businessman. The couple became parents to a daughter, Deleena, in 2006. A few months after the birth of their daughter, Raj Kundra’s first marriage ended in divorce. Several years later, Raj Kundra alleged in an interview that the reason for his divorce was his ex-wife, Kavita, as she was having an affair with his sister’s husband.
Business in Dubai (2007)
In 2007, Raj Kundra shifted his base to Dubai and set up Essential General Trading LLC. The company dealt with precious metals, construction, mining, and renewable energy projects. Around the same time, he also began financing and production of Hindi movies, owing to his love for Bollywood.
Raj Kundra’s marriage with Shilpa Shetty (2009)
After Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty shot to global fame by winning the British reality show Big Brother in 2007, Raj Kundra met her during a perfume launch to discuss a business opportunity. The two eventually fell in love and tied the knot on 22 November 2009. Raj Kundra and Shilpa Shetty have two children – son Viaan, born on 21 May 2012, and daughter Samisha, born through surrogacy on 15 February 2020.
Business in India (2009 onwards)
Upon marrying Shilpa Shetty, Raj Kundra shifted his base to Mumbai, India, and set up Iconic Investments, a private fund trading in equity markets. He was also associated with several other ventures, the most notable being Satyug Gold. Kundra also invested in sports through IPL team Rajasthan Royals and Super Fight League – India’s first professional mixed martial arts league, which he started along with Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt.
Along with Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar, Raj Kundra was also one of the promoters of the online and television broadcast platform Best Deal TV, an Indian television home shopping channel that capitalized on celebrity endorsements. He was also associated with the development of a live streaming social media app, the Jaldi Live Stream App.
Charity work and award (2020)
Alon with his wife Shilpa Shetty, Raj Kundra has remained quite involved in the charitable works of the Shilpa Shetty Foundation. For his work in promoting the Swachh Bharat Mission, Kundra was awarded the Champions of Change Award in 2019. The award was conferred by former President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, in New Delhi on 20 January 2020.
Raj Kundra Controversies
Raj Kundra IPL controversy (2013-2015)
In 2013, Delhi Police questioned Raj Kundra regarding the IPL 6 spot-fixing case. Although some Rajasthan Royals players were arrested, he was given a clean chit by the police in reply on right to information (RTI). However, in 2015, the Supreme Court of India imposed a lifetime ban on Raj Kundra from watching cricket matches in the stadiums. The same year, his IPL team Rajasthan Royals also faced a 2-year ban from IPL.
Raj Kundra Bitcoin Fraud Case (2018)
Raj Kundra’s name surfaced in the Rs 2,000 crore GainBitcoin cryptocurrency fraud case, which came to light in 2018. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) summoned him for questioning regarding his role in the scam. Later, cybercrime officials said that the investigators did not find any concrete evidence implicating Kundra.
Raj Kundra’s involvement with Dawood Ibrahim (2019)
In 2019, Raj Kundra was once again questioned by the ED, although for a different reason. He was allegedly involved in a business dealing with Ranjeet Bindra, who was a front man for Iqbal Mirchi, a close aide of terrorist and drug kingpin Dawood Ibrahim. The extent of Raj Kundra’s involvement with Ibrahim remains unclear.
Satyug Gold Scam (2020-2021)
In 2020, NRI businessman and actor Sachiin Joshi filed a police complaint against Raj Kundra and his wife Shilpa Shetty. In his complaint, Joshi alleged fraudulent representation and non-receipt of gold, and stated that he was lured and then cheated by SGPL’s ‘Satyug Gold Scheme’. He pressed several charges against Kundra, his wife, and other officials of SGPL. In 2021, Joshi won the legal battle against Kundra and Shetty. The latter was fined Rs 3 lakh by the court.
Raj Kundra Porn Controversy (2021)
In July 2021, the property cell of the Mumbai Crime Branch arrested Raj Kundra. The arrest was made in connection with the case of a pornography racket busted by Mumbai police in February 2021. Raj Kundra was arrested on grounds of creating pornography films and publishing them through some app. He is believed to be the key conspirator behind this racket, along with several other accomplices.