What is Bitcoin scam that is impacting Karnataka's BJP government
- The Congress has accused the state government of covering up the scam
- the BJP government in Karnataka has brushed off the matter as a "non-issue"
- This scam has turned into a political blame game in Karnataka
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai's government is in gloom over an alleged multi-crore bitcoin scam that has a hacker, Srikrishna Ramesh alias Sriki, at the centre of it.
The Congress has accused the state government of covering up the scam – which according to the Opposition could implicate BJP politicians and high-ranking police officials – the BJP government in Karnataka has brushed off the matter as a "non-issue".
However, the scam was allegedly brought up during a meeting that Bommai had with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the second week of November.
With this, let's take a look at what the scam is and how it has impacted the state BJP government.
What is the Bitcoin Scam?
The Quint reported that the case involves prime suspect Srikrishna Ramesh alias Sriki who stands accused of cyber fraud, drug peddling and cryptocurrency theft. In 2019, Sriki was accused of having hacked Karnataka government's e-procurement site and siphoned off more than Rs 11.5 crore.
In November 2020, the Central Crime Branch (CCB) had reportedly seized 31 bitcoins worth Rs nine crore from the Bengaluru-based hacker. However, these bitcoins are no longer with the CCB, raising suspicion about corruption within the police ranks.
This scam has turned into a political blame game in Karnataka with the Congress demanding an independent investigation into the matter by a Supreme Court-monitored Special Investigation Team (SIT).
In November 2020, the CCB based on a tip-off arrested a man named Suneesh Hegde who was procuring hydro marijuana through dealers on the dark web. During interrogation, Hegde admitted that it was Ramesh who was helping him procure drugs.
On November 17, 2020, Srikrishna Ramesh was arrested. During interrogation, it was found that Sriki was involved in a series of online crimes.