States & UTs

    Bitcoin scandal: SIT raids residences of accused in Bengaluru

    The Hawk
    September12/ 2023
    Last Updated:

    Bengaluru: The sleuths of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) are conducting raids on the residences of main accused persons including the alleged kingpin in Bengaluru in connection with the Bitcoin scandal.

    The raids are underway at alleged kingpin Srikrishna Ramesh aka Sriki’s residence located in Jayanagar. The houses of other accused persons Suneesh Hegde and Prasidh in upscale Sadashivanagar locality in Bengaluru are also raided.

    The officers had obtained a search warrant from the jurisdictional court on Monday and the raids have been underway since early morning. The state police department is also contemplating getting the assistance of the Israel authorities in the complicated case, according to sources.

    The Congress government in Karnataka had recently issued an order directing reinvestigation into the sensational Bitcoin scam allegedly involving top BJP leaders in the state.

    The SIT under the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) is being formed to take up the probe. Home Minister G. Parameshwara stated that, “we had discussed about lakhs of crores being siphoned off during the previous BJP government. Now, we have ordered a reinvestigation. SIT is being formed under the CID. The scandal involves technical, interstate and international matters,” he had said.

    Sources explain that the bitcoin scandal had taken place after the arrest of alleged international hacker Srikrishna by the CCB Police in Bengaluru. It was alleged that using the accused hacker, the ruling BJP leaders had minted huge money by allowing him to commit the scandal in custody in 2020.

    The police had arrested the accused while allegedly selling drugs. The probe revealed that the accused had siphoned off Rs 11 crores by hacking into online gaming companies and government web portals. The accused had allegedly converted the money into bitcoins and carried out drug peddling in Bengaluru.

    Congress’ Karnataka in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala earlier, in his series of tweets had attacked the BJP central leadership as well as former Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai over the bitcoin scandal.

    “What is the role and responsibility of the Basavaraj Bommai? (who was the home minister in charge at the relevant time) and others in the state government? Surjewala had questioned, causing severe embarrassment to BJP.

    “The layers of the Bitcoin scam are finally being unearthed. Let India’s Home minister and Bommai answer. FBI in India to investigate India’s biggest Bitcoins scam cover up under the then Karnataka BJP government. If so, release details of the investigation and suspects including political people,” he had stated.

    How many Bitcoins were stolen? and of what value? Who in Karnataka is involved? Were the stolen Bitcoins transferred from the wallet of the arranged hacker Srikrishna? Surjewala questioned.

    Whether the ‘Whale Alerts’ reflecting the transfer of the 14,682 stolen Bitfinex Bitcoins valued at Rs 5,240 crores on the two dates December 1, 2020 and April 14, 2021 when Shrikrishna was in custody — has any correlation? Surjewala said.

    He further asked, why was Interpol not informed? Why did the BJP government wait for over 5 months up till April 24, 2021 to write to Interpole and that also after the release of Srikrishna on April 17, 2021.

    He also questioned why the National Investigation Agency (NIA), Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) were not informed by the Karnataka BJP government?

    Minister for RDPR, IT and BT Priyanka Kharge, then stated, “I believe the FBI is in Delhi to investigate the billion dollar Bitcoins scam. Like I said before, if the state investigates the matter, a lot of BJP’s skeletons will tumble out of the layers of Bitcoins scam.

    Bommai had later challenged AICC General Secretary Randeep Surjewala to submit any information regarding the scandal. “From my side, I have given a reply to the issue in the Legislative Assembly itself, if he (Randeep Surjewala) has any information on the issue let him submit. Instead tweeting is meaningless,” he quipped.

    Sources explain that the issue is likely to trigger controversy at the national level.