Indian National Congress Demands Investigation Into “Mega Bitcoin Scam”

News | July 6, 2018 By:

The Indian National Congress (INC), the largest political party in the country, has accused officials of the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) of money laundering using bitcoin.

According to the Hindustan Times report, the INC demanded a Supreme Court-monitored investigation into a “mega bitcoin scam,” which is allegedly worth between Rs 5,000 crore ($727M USD) and Rs 88,000 crore ($12.79B USD). Senior INC member Shaktisinh Gohil alleged that BJP officials was involved in converting illicit money to bitcoin by so-called “hawala” transactions, a method of transferring money without any funds actually moving.

Gohil said the the scam came to light in April of this year when the Crime Investigation Department (CID) in the Indian state of Gujarat filed a criminal complaint against nine policemen from the Amreli district for allegedly kidnapping Surat-based builder Shailesh Bhatt, his friend Kirit Paladiya and Bhatt’s driver, and forcing Bhatt to transfer 200 bitcoins ($1.3M USD). Bhatt alleged that Nalin Kotadiya, a BJP official and former member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), had pressured him to pay the ransom.

“There were reports of the state police blackmailing some businessmen in Surat for extortion and named a former BJP legislator as one of the kingpins,” Gohil said. “The CID then discovered that the mastermind of this scam was Nalin Kotadiya. As the BJP is scrambling for answers to explain how Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank, whose director is BJP chief Amit Shah, received old currency worth ~745.58 crore ($108M USD) in just five days and how ~3118.51 crore ($453M USD) was deposited in 11 district co-operative banks linked with BJP leaders in Gujarat itself, a new ‘mega bitcoin scam’ worth more than RS 5,000 crore has been unravelled in the state. We demand an impartial Supreme Court-monitored judicial investigation in this maze of ‘mega bitcoin scam’ so that the truth comes out.”

In a statement, the BJP denied the allegations and said that it was “laughable.” “The dirty tricks department of the Congress is at work to spread confusion and lies,” said BJP spokesperson Anil Baluni. “It is blaming the police, which has uncovered the case. I wonder if the Congress is trying to help somebody in this case as part of a conspiracy.”

Last month, a sessions court in Ahmedabad declared Kotadiya a proclaimed offender or “absconder” after he failed to appear in court despite repeated summonses and after the CID could not reach him with an arrest warrant.