Coming off the heels of reports that the Indian supreme court had refused to lift a cryptocurrency ban news has emerged of top Indian officials being linked to a bitcoin scam.
Key members of the Indian Congress have demanded a Supreme Court investigation into what they called a “mega bitcoin scam,” accusing top leaders of the nations largest political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, of being involved.
BJP leader accused
Senior congressional leader Shaktisinh Gohil is leading the call for an investigation, and at a recent press conference he claimed that a scam that involved more than USD 725 million involved top BJP leaders, including Nalin Kotadiya as “the mastermind.”
Kotadiya is one of the leadership group within the Bharatiya Janata Party, and since the incident came to light, he hasn’t been seen and is now wanted by the CID.
Gohil claims that officials used bitcoin by way of unofficial channels to carry out illegal “hawala” transactions, which involve transferring money from one destination to another avoiding the mainstream banking process.
The process used by the established banking industry can prove slow and costly, but transactions that look to bypass this method are deemed illegal under Indian and Pakistani law.
The intricate scheme only came to the surface after local police arrested a builder from Surat, named Sailesh Bhatt who intended to extort 200 bitcoins in an abduction case.
Collusion with police
Following an investigation, Kotadiya was suspected of being the mastermind behind the whole thing and has been accused by Gohil of colluding with police and other politicians involved in the scam to hide evidence and ensure the blame for the crime was placed on Bhatt.
Incidents of abduction and extortion have risen since bitcoin saw its value rise last year, including one instance where the CEO of Exmo Bitcoin was kidnapped in Kiev and forced at gunpoint to turn over more than USD 1million in bitcoin.
He was eventually released a day and a half later. He was unhurt but in a state of shock.
The truth is, criminals will take advantage of any situation they possibly can, and the crypto industry is fair game from their perspective.
As cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin become more and more accepted in broader society, we’ll see criminal activities that involve them, but we can blame the cryptocurrencies themselves just as much as we can blame USD or GBP when such currencies are involved in criminal enterprise.
Lover of all things crypto, blockchain and AI, professional tech scribe & part of the editorial team at Crypto Disrupt.