K’taka Bitcoin scam: SIT arrests cop, cyber expert
Bengaluru: The Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed to probe the sensational Bitcoin scam that came to light during the previous BJP government has arrested a police inspector and a cyber expert.
The development is likely to take a political twist ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, as the involvement of prominent politicians of the state is suspected in the scam.
Police sources stated on Thursday that the accused were arrested on charges of destroying the evidence regarding the scam. The SIT sleuths had called five persons for interrogation on Wednesday and were likely to take all into custody. The accused police inspector and cyber expert will be produced before the court on Thursday, said sources.
The SIT team had called three Deputy Superintendent-rank police officers for questioning. The team had also summoned alleged kingpin Sriki for questioning.
The SIT under the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) was formed in September 2023. Home Minister Dr. G. Parameshwara had then stated, “We had discussed about lakhs of crores of rupees being siphoned off during the previous BJP government. Now, we have ordered a reinvestigation. The SIT is being formed under the CID. The scandal involves technical, interstate and international matters.”
Sources had then said that the bitcoin scandal had taken place after the CCB police arrested the alleged international hacker Srikrishna a.k.a Sriki in Bengaluru in 2020 on the charge of selling drugs. It was alleged that using the accused hacker, the ruling BJP leaders had minted huge money by “allowing” him to commit the scandal in custody in 2020.
The probe revealed that the accused had siphoned off Rs 11 crore by hacking into online gaming companies and government web portals. The accused had allegedly converted the money into bitcoins and carried out drug peddling in Bengaluru.
As the scandal came out, Karnataka in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala had in his series of tweets last year attacked the BJP central leadership as well as former Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai over the bitcoin scandal.
“What is the role and responsibility of the Basavaraj Bommai? (who was the home minister in charge at the relevant time) and others in the state government? Surjewala had questioned, causing severe embarrassment to BJP.
“The layers of the Bitcoin scam are finally being unearthed. Let India’s Home minister and Bommai answer. FBI in India to investigate India’s biggest Bitcoins scam cover up under the then Karnataka BJP government. If so, release details of the investigation and suspects including political people,” he had stated.
How many Bitcoins were stolen? and of what value? Who in Karnataka is involved? Were the stolen Bitcoins transferred from the wallet of the arranged hacker Sri Krishna? Surjewala questioned.
“Whether the “Whale Alerts” reflecting the transfer of the 14,682 stolen Bitfinex Bitcoins valued at Rs 5,240 crores on the two dates December 1, 2020 and 14 April, 2021 when Shri Krishna was in custody -has any correlation?” Surjewala said.
He further asked, “Why was Interpol not informed? Why did the BJP government wait for over 5 months up till 24th April 2021 to write to Interpol and that also after the release of Sri Krishna on 17th April 2021.”
He also questioned, “Why the National Investigation Agency (NIA), Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) were not informed by the Karnataka BJP government?
Minister for RDPR, IT and BT Priyanka Kharge, then stated, “I believe the FBI is in Delhi to investigate the billion dollar Bitcoins scam. Like I said before, if the state investigates the matter, a lot of BJP’s skeletons will tumble out of the layers of the Bitcoin scam.”
Bommai had later challenged Surjewala to submit any information regarding the scandal. “From my side, I have given a reply to the issue in the Legislative Assembly itself, if he (Randeep Surjewala) has any information on the issue let him submit. Instead tweeting is meaningless,” he had maintained.