India‘s leading opposition party, the Indian National Congress (INC), accuses the ruling BJP of a multimillion-dollar Bitcoin (BTC) scam in the southern state of Karnataka.
During a press conference held on Saturday, 13th November, Randeep Surjewala, the party’s official spokesman, accused the BJP government, currently in power in Karnataka, of covering up a Bitcoin scam. He also asked the Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to reveal the names of those involved in the crime.
Surjewala said at a press conference that “this is a case of intrigue, whitewash, concealment, and deception smack of a deep-rooted conspiracy. It is India’s biggest-ever ‘Bitcoin Scam Cover Up’ under the Karnataka BJP government. Instead of conducting a fair investigation, the BJP Government of Karnataka appears to be preoccupied with a cover-up.”
These comments came after several Congress leaders accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of dropping the investigation and allegedly asking Chief Minister Bonmai to no longer worry about it.
The scam itself took place in 2019 and was discovered after a hacker named Srikrishna was arrested. After launching an investigation, the police discovered that Srikrishna was also the one behind the hacking of the state government’s E-procurement portal. During the hacking, Shrikrishna managed to siphon off approximately £969,000.
Srikrishna also admitted to the hacking of the Bitfinex exchange in 2016, where he stole 2000 BTC, according to a statement released by Congress. The police then claimed that they had seized 31 BTC from Srikrishna, but later retracted the statement, stating that BTC had never been transferred out of his wallet. These contradictory statements have already raised doubts: “How many Bitcoins and of what value were transferred? How does the Bengaluru police then suggest that the 31 & 186 Bitcoins allegedly transferred to the police wallet were lost or were found to be fake transactions?”
Congress also asked the government to investigate whether the hacker had moved the coins stolen from Bitfinex while in custody, and who the recipients were. A Congress spokesperson cited “Whale Alerts”, a Twitter-based crypto transaction tracker that recorded the transfer of stolen BTC from Bitfinex on 1st December. Meanwhile, members of the ruling party argue that all the accusations of BJP leaders’ involvement in the scam are baseless and should be treated as rumors.
Former Chief Minister of Karnataka and senior Congress leader Siddaramaiah have tweeted about the scam, demanding an impartial investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice. Given the authorities’ negligence and the inconsistencies found, this is a legitimate demand.
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