India’s leading political parties have argued over a multimillion dollar Bitcoin scam.
Indian National Congress (INC) spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala on Saturday accused the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) government of southern Karnataka state of covering up the fraud. BJP holds the majority and INC is in the opposition.
With the request that Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai reveal the main actors in the fraud, Surjewala stated:
This is a case of intrigue, whitewash, concealment, and deception that smells like a deeply ingrained conspiracy. It is India’s largest “Bitcoin Scam Cover Up” of all time under the BJP government of Karnataka. Rather than conduct a fair investigation, it appears that the Karnataka BJP government is engaged in a cover-up.
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His comments came in a press release after a number of congressional leaders said Prime Minister Narendra Modi tried to close the investigation by asking Bommai not to act.
Over $ 1.3 million was embezzled in the 2019 hack
The scam started in 2019, but the details didn’t become known until 2020 when police arrested a hacker named Srikrishna and his staff at a drug demonstration.
During the subsequent investigation, it turned out that a year earlier Srikrishna had invented the alleged hack of the e-procurement portal of the Karnataka government, which, according to ThePrint, had embezzled the equivalent of 1.3 million US dollars in Indian rupees.
Not a first for the hacker
Srikrishna also confessed to being the mastermind behind the Bitfinex crypto-exchange hack in 2016 when it siphoned off 2,000 bitcoins, according to a statement released by Surjewala. In January police announced they had seized 31 bitcoins from Srikrishna.
This announcement was later withdrawn. Police admitted that the bitcoins were never transferred from Srikrishna’s wallet.
Surjewala added in the publication:
How many bitcoins and in what value were transferred? How do the Bengaluru police then (in their third Panchnama of January 22, 2021) suggest that the 31 & 186 Bitcoins allegedly transferred to the police wallet were lost or turned out to be fake transactions?
Indian government is taking “progressive” action on this matter
The Indian government plans to take “progressive” and “forward-looking” measures on this issue. It is well aware of the risks associated with cryptocurrencies, reported Asia News International (ANI) after a meeting on the future of crypto in the Asian country chaired by PM Modi. ANI tweeted:
It has been strongly felt that attempts to mislead the youth by over-promising and opaque advertising should be stopped. It was also agreed that the steps taken by the government in the field of cryptocurrency and related issues will be progressive and forward-looking. “