Eight Gujarat cops booked for forcing man to transfer Bitcoins worth Rs 12-cr
Gujarat criminal investigation department (CID) on Sunday booked eight policemen and arrested two of them on charges of abducting and forcing a Surat businessman to transfer 200 Bitcoins worth Rs 12 crore, while also demanding a ransom of Rs 32 crore to free him. The CID also booked a lawyer in the case.
All eight policemen are a part of Amreli district’s local crime branch unit, said director general of police, CID (crime), Ashish Bhatia.
“Two policemen — constables Babu Der and Vijay Vadher — were arrested today. All other accused have gone underground. Efforts are on to nab them,” Bhatia added.
Businessman Shailesh Bhatt had complained to the CID against the Amreli policemen on February 23. Amreli local crime branch unit inspector Anant Patel is among the nine accused.
According to Bhatia, the Amreli policemen called the businessman to Gandhinagar on February 11, where they abducted him and took him to a farmhouse.
Then the policemen made him transfer 200 Bitcoins to an unidentified account, said Bhatia.
The Amreli policemen released him the same day after he assured them that he would give them Rs 32 crore through hawala, Bhatia added.
Bhatia said the CID had so far not found any proof of Bitcoin transfer, but there was evidence of abduction, illegal confinement, threats and the ransom demand.
Bitcoin is a payment platform that functions on digital currency. It is touted as the first decentralised peer-to-peer payment network that is powered by internet users. After hitting a peak value of $20,000 in December last year, the Bitcoin has lost more than 50% of its value this year. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are facing increased scrutiny from regulators around the world, with the Reserve Bank of India recently tightening rules to discourage their use.
The CID is investigating information that the businessman gave Rs 75 lakh to the Amreli policemen.
Bhatia said it was not clear why the accused targeted Bhatt. The CID is assessing information that the policemen targeted the businessman after getting an application that he allegedly stole Bitcoins from someone.
“Even if there was an application against Bhatt, it should have been forwarded to the superintendent of police or some higher authority for investigation,” said Bhatia.
The CID has formed a special investigation team to probe the allegations against the policemen and the lawyer.