An official from Indian opposition party the Indian National Congress (INC) has demanded a probe into a “mega Bitcoin scam,” The Hindu reports July 5. The scam supposedly involves leaders of the majority Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Senior INC member Shaktisinh Gohil alleged that BJP officials were complicit in a “multi-layered” scam to launder money, which he claims the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Gujarat have estimated at Rs 5,000 crore, or about $723 million. The Hindu reports that the INC has demanded that the Supreme Court monitor an official investigation into into the matter.
Gohil said that BJP members used Bitcoin (BTC) as a “cover-up” for money laundering and extortion. According to Gohil, the scam came to light in April when Indian businessman and builder Sailesh Bhatt filed a complaint against Gujarat's Amreli district police claiming they extorted 200 bitcoins (about $2 million at the time) and demanded Rs 32 crore ($4.6 million) in cash.
Bhatt alleged that a BJP official and former Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) Nalin Kotadiya had pressured him to pay the ransom. The CID subsequently launched an investigation, wherein several officials were arrested, including Amreli district police superintendent Jagdish Patel.
Kotadiya has since absconded, and per the request of the CID, has been declared a proclaimed offender. The CID claim Kotadiya has “remained untraceable” even after a warrant was issued for his arrest. Gohil said that "if he is arrested, he will reveal damning evidences which will expose top BJP leaders in the state."
Gohil accused the Modi government of turning a blind eye to the alleged scam, saying, “It is intriguing that the Modi government sends... authorities to hound Gujarat Congress MLAs as well as Karnataka Congress candidates during elections when the code of conduct is on. But it does not bother to investigate this “Mega Bitcoin Scam.”
The Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee suggested in a recent tweet that the government refuses to investigate the case in order to “protect themselves.”