Scam May Cross $12 Billion
As reported by local news NDTV on July 6, 2018, the Congress Party in the state of Gujarat demanded a Supreme Court intervention after party workers claimed several influential politicians from BJP were involved in an elaborate bitcoin scam.
Shaktisinh Gohil, a spokesperson for the Congress party, estimated the total ill-gotten haul to have crossed $760 million, with local news reporters claiming a mammoth figure of $12 billion, equivalent to ten percent of bitcoin’s market cap.
“A new mega bitcoin scam has been unraveled in Gujarat. The finger of suspicion of this massive scam of illegal cryptocurrency directly points to several top Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and a mastermind — an absconding BJP leader and former MLA Nalin Kotadiya.”
Although the pioneer cryptocurrency is classified as “illegal tender” in the subcontinent, the country is no stranger to cryptocurrency scams. The year 2018 alone saw over $100 million in similar operations in the country, and if the latest claims are valid, the figure is close to a billion dollars. Such crimes justify the government’s stance on levying a stranglehold ban on digital assets.
Gohil termed the scam akin to a “Pandora’s box,” and added, “illegal hawala transactions, kidnappings, extortion of cryptocurrency using CBI/police/government authorities at the behest of top BJP leaders in Gujarat is a norm.”
Connections to Bitconnect
In June 2018, reports of Gujarat builder Shailesh Bhatt extorting 200 bitcoins from promoters of Bitconnect emerged, which subsequently lead to India’s Crime Investigation Department (CID) taking over the matter given the seriousness of the crime.
The CID scrutinized Bhatt’s offices and found evidence the local police forces were involved in helping Bhatt extort bitcoins from the promoters at gunpoint. During investigations, several police officers, including state police head Jagdish Patel, were reprimanded for their role in the heinous act.
The CID discovered that Nalin Kotadiya, an ex-Member of Parliament, masterminded the act and was involved in various illicit cryptocurrency activities in a large capacity.
Gohil believes Kotadiya’s arrest is crucial to the scam, as it “will reveal damning evidence which will expose top BJP leaders in the state.” The politician further indicated the crime was controlled wholly by politicians to convert their “black” money into “white.”
The BJP dismissed all accusations and termed the report “an attempt by the opposition party’s ‘dirty tricks department’ to spread confusion and lies.” Party spokesperson noted the accusations against local police authorities were “laughable” as it was them who cracked the scam and brought it to light.
Interestingly, the claims remain an allegation, and no clear evidence exists at the time of writing. Furthermore, it must be noted that NDTV is known for sympathizing with the Congress party and is indirectly owned by party leaders.