India’s primary opposition party, the Indian National Congress has alleged members of the ruling party BJP of a mega-Bitcoin scam worth Rs 5000 Crores (50 Billion Rupees/$763 Million). As per NDTV reports, party spokesperson for the state of Gujarat, Shaktisinh Gohil, has said that the party is urging for a Supreme Court led investigation into the matter.
As per the spokesperson, an ongoing investigation into the scandal has found the scam to be worth at least Rs. 5,000 Crores. However, as per local media reports, the scale of the scam might be much higher than anticipated, as much as 88,000 Crores as per some reports. A leader of the BJP and a former Member of the Legislative Assembly Nalin Kotadiya has been named in the case but has since absconded.
In a statement to the media, Shaktisinh Gohil commented:
"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. Illegal hawala transactions, kidnappings, extortion of cryptocurrency using CBI/police/government authorities at the behest of top BJP leaders in Gujarat is a norm".
This case has been one of the biggest Bitcoin-related controversies in India. A Surat-based builder alleged that police from Amreli district tried to kidnap him and extort Bitcoins worth 10 Crore Rupees from him. However, the case is quite complex and it was later brought to light that Bhatt himself used extortion to gain those Bitcoins from the promoters of Bitcoinnect in India. The scam was initially seen as one where 200 Bitcoins were involved - but it has since expanded to 1850 Bitcoins having been involved in this scam. A number of police officers have also been arrested in this case.
The Central Intelligence Department (CID) of India have been investigating this matter and found Kotadiya to be one of the masterminds involved in this plot, who has now been named an absconder by the court. Gohil commented on this stating that while Kotadiya is absconding, he has said in a video message that:
"if he is arrested, he will reveal damning evidences which will expose top BJP leaders in the state".
The opposition is accusing that this scam was a state-backed money laundering operation where ‘black money’ (term used in India for unaccounted and undisclosed cash income) was being converted into ‘white’. India’s ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has dismissed these accusations from the opposition. BJP spokesperson Anil Baluni commented on this, stating that:
“The Congress were laughable and nothing can be more unfortunate than this as it is the state police which has cracked the case and acted against several persons.”
Cryptocurrencies in India are a rather controversial topic of late - especially with the recent RBI circular asking banks to stop providing services to those dealing in cryptocurrencies. The first Supreme Court hearing on this matter which took place on Monday denied any stay orders to the ban - and the ban comes into effect from today, the 6th of July. However, another major hearing is all set to take place on the 20th of July which will decide the fate of crypto-trade in India.