No Bitcoin scam, says BJP; No foul play in investigation: Bengaluru police
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday dismissed the Congress party's allegations on the Bitcoin issue cover-up, saying there was no scam. The Bengaluru police too refuted the charges of foul play in the investigation and cover-up exercises.
"There has been absolutely no scam of whatsoever nature or dimension it could be. Therefore any questions of having any actors in this scam is a perverted imagination. However, new actors have emerged making mountain out of a mole, and making baseless allegations, based on distorted facts of the case," BJP's Karnataka unit spokesperson Ganesh Karnik said in a statement.
He was reacting to Congress allegations that 'influential politicians' are involved in the scam after officials seized bitcoins worth ₹nine crore from a city based hacker, Srikrishna alias Sriki, who is also accused of hacking into government portals, sourcing drugs through the dark net and paying for it through cryptocurrency.
Congress general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala alleged in a press conference in Delhi on Saturday that the size of the scam could be much bigger because just on two days on December 1, 2020 and April 14, 2021 illegal transactions worth ₹5,240 crore took place.
He posed a series of questions to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and asked what was the role of Karnataka Chief Minister Basaravaj Bommai, who was the state's home minister when the scam took place.
Surjewala also demanded to know why international investigative agencies, including the Interpol, were not informed about the stolen Bitcoins.
Apparently referring to the Congress leaders as 'new actors', Karnik said they were continuously carrying out a slanderous campaign by releasing distorted and partial facts for cheap popularity, "in utter disregard to the fact that the case is sub judice and pending before the Trial Court".
He claimed that neither had any Bitcoins been transferred from the account of hacker Srikrishna nor any bitcoin been lost.
Meanwhile, the Bengaluru police issued a statement to clear the air and said that the investigation was conducted by the Central Crime Branch "in a fair and professional manner."
"It is emphatically stated that such misleading versions are being floated based on incomplete/distorted facts. All such versions are vehemently denied," the police said.
Based on the credible information on November 4, 2020 on a drug consignment procured through the darknet, CCB Police secured one accused and seized 500 grams of Hydro Ganja. During further investigation, 10 other accused persons, including Srikrishna, alias Sriki were secured and arrested.
During interrogation, Srikrishna confessed before the Investigating Officer about his involvement in alleged hacking of many Crypto Currency websites. "It is stated that neither were any Bitcoins transferred from the account of hacker Srikrishna nor was any Bitcoin lost. It is a fact that for the purpose of investigation of Crypto Currency, it was felt necessary to open a Bitcoin account," the police said.
It added that on December 8, 2020, government permission was obtained to open a Bitcoin account. "During the process of identifying and seizure of bitcoins, accused Srikrishna showed a BTC wallet, which contained 31.8 BTC. The wallet password was changed in the presence of cyber experts, Government panchas and the entire procedure was recorded under mahazer and submitted to the court," the police said.
Further, the Court's permission was obtained to use password to transfer the said Bitcoins to the police wallet account. Upon reaching the said wallet shown by Srikrishna, it showed 186.811 Bitcoins, police said, adding that the Cyber experts opined that the said account claimed by the accused as his personal account was in fact a live wallet of an exchange and the accused did not have private key for this.
"Hence, the said account was left untouched and as a result, no BITCOINS were transferred to Police wallet. The case has been chargesheeted along with the above facts and related documents and is now subjudice," police said.
They said that at no stage was anything done which could jeopardise a fair investigation and the process of law.
They claimed that investigation was done by a team of professional officers under close supervision and in continuous consultation and in the presence of reputed and external experts, without any external influence or interference. On the claim made on Whale Alert's Twitter handle that 14,682 stolen bitfinex bitcoins were transferred, police said they were completely unsubstantiated.
"There is nothing to suggest that it had originated from Bengaluru. The law enforcement system and investigating agencies work on certain procedures laid down by law of the land," the statement read.
It further said that till date no foreign law enforcement agencies or any foreign companies have approached Bengaluru police about any hacking. "Even representatives of Bitfinex company have neither shared any details of the alleged hack nor sought any information so far," police said.
On the claims of Srikrishna about high volume hacking of websites, police said the careful examination of digital evidence by the cyber experts revealed that majority of his claims were unsubstantiated.
It also said that Bengaluru police have informed CBI, Enforcement Directorate and Interpol through proper channels this year.
Regarding the charge that Srikrishna was allegedly forced to consume Alprazolam during police custody, police said that on the direction of the court, his blood and urine samples were collected at Bowring Hospital and submitted to the Forensic Science Laboratory for scientific examination. After examination, the FSL gave a negative report, stating that there was no presence of drugs, police said.