2 aides of Bitcoin case main accused among 3 held: Karnataka SIT – Hindustan Times

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The Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Karnataka police has made further arrests in the alleged Bitcoin scam case, taking the total count of arrested people, since the formation of special team, to three, officers familiar with the matter said on Saturday.
While two arrests have been made in connection with the Bitcoin scam, one person has been arrested for helping the accused launder the money, the officers added.
According to the police, the two arrested individuals, identified as Nitin Mesharam and Darshit Patel, are residents of Nagpur in Maharashtra. These individuals had associations with the prime suspect in the case, Srikrishna Ramesh, also known as Sriki.
“These two men are currently in the judicial custody. We can’t share the specifics of the arrests so far and we are following leads from their interrogation,” said the officer, requesting anonymity.
The SIT has also arrested a person named Harwinder Singh from Delhi, who allegedly assisted Sriki in money laundering activities.
A senior officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said, “Harwinder Singh from Punjab has been arrested for helping the main accused [Srikrishna] launder money by hacking the Karnataka government’s e-procurement portal in 2019.”
As part of their investigation, the Crime Investigation Department (CID) questioned Sriki multiple times in recent weeks. He is currently out on bail and is being interviewed regarding the ongoing investigation against him.
Meanwhile, amid allegations of Central Crime Branch (CCB) officials tampering the evidence, while it was in their custody, the CID has also questioned CCB officers regarding their handling of the Bitcoin scam case.
On Saturday, the SIT searched the residences of four police inspectors and a private IT expert, who were involved in the original probe against Srikrishna and his associates in 2020 and 2021.
According to the CID, a digital forensics report indicating disappearance and tampering of crucial evidence with devices seized from Sriki’s associates, while in police custody, emerged. The report raised concerns about the integrity of the investigating officers involved in the case.
An FIR has been registered against unnamed CCB officials, citing offences under section 204 (destruction of evidence) of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 120(B) (criminal conspiracy) has also been registered.
A local court in Bengaluru this week issued a directive to temporarily suspend a request from the SIT investigating the alleged Bitcoin scam case. The request sought to revoke Srikrishna’s bail and compel his cooperation in the ongoing probe.
This suspension will remain in effect until a comprehensive medical evaluation for his drug addiction problem is completed.
The Bitcoin scam initially came to light when Srikrishna was arrested by the Central Crime Branch (CCB) police on November 18, 2020, in connection with a drug peddling case.
Subsequent investigations by the CCB revealed that Srikrishna was involved in a series of online crimes, including hacking websites, demanding ransom in Bitcoins to unlock them, creating fake payment portals, and attempting to steal funds from the Karnataka e-governance centre.
Arun Dev is an Assistant Editor with the Karnataka bureau of Hindustan Times. A journalist for over 10 years, he has written extensively on crime and politics.

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