Pune: An investigation team of the Income Tax (I-T) department, on Wednesday, conducted search operations at major bitcoin exchanges across the country on suspicion of tax evasion.
The seven-member team searched offices in Bhawani Peth and Hinjawadi in the city. Similar raids were conducted in other cities across the country including Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kochi, Gurugram and Ghaziabad.
According to highly placed sources of the I-T Department, the team started operations in Pune. It seized important documents containing details about bank accounts, investors and transactions. “The searches are being carried out to gather evidence to establish the identity of investors and traders and transactions undertaken by them, identity of the counterpart and related bank accounts used, etc,” said an officer.
The teams, sources said, are armed with financial data and inputs about the working of these exchanges.
This is the first big action against them in the country. Bitcoin, a virtual currency, is not regulated in the country. Its circulation has been a cause of concern among central bankers the world over for quite a while now. The Reserve Bank of India has also cautioned users, holders and traders of virtual currencies (VCs), including bitcoins.
In March, the Finance Ministry had constituted an Inter-Disciplinary Committee to take stock of the present status of VCs both in India and globally and suggest measures for dealing with such currencies. (With agency inputs)
Searches in city area not for the first time
The I-T Department carried out searches in Bhawani Peth area. This is not the first time that the area is searched by the officials. Earlier, the I-T Department had busted a ‘dabba trading’ racket in the first week of November, which was the first such case in the city. The department had seized Rs 3 crore (including currency notes of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500), gold valued at Rs 3 crore and unaccounted assets worth Rs 30 crore.