Ready to take over probe into multi-crore bitcoin Ponzi scam, CBI tells SC

PTI
Friday, 31 May 2019

Bitcoin is not a legal tender in India and not recognised as a medium of exchange

New Delhi: CBI told the Supreme Court on Friday that it is ready to take over the investigation into the multi-crore bitcoin Ponzi scheme in which several investors were allegedly lured on the promise of handsome returns. 

CBI said this before a vacation bench comprising Justices MR Shah and AS Bopanna, hearing a plea filed by one of the arrested accused in the case seeking bail. 

The accused has also sought a CBI investigation in the case saying cases have been lodged against him in several states. 

Bitcoin or cryptocurrency is unregulated digital money that is issued and normally controlled by its developers and used and accepted among members of a virtual community. Bitcoin is not a legal tender in India and not recognised as a medium of exchange.  

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED), said that it is a "huge" scam involving multi-crores of rupees and the CBI was ready to take over the probe. 

"This is a huge bitcoin Ponzi scam. He (accused) is seeking CBI probe and we (CBI) have no problem," Mehta told the bench. 

During the hearing, the counsel appearing for the petitioner told the bench that he was granted bail in some cases related to the alleged scam and was now seeking bail in three other cases lodged against him. 

The counsel said that main accused of the alleged scam has been granted bail while the petitioner is lodged in jail for over a year. 

"You cannot be granted bail in separate cases in one petition. We are of the prima facie opinion that for each FIR, you have to file separate petition," the bench said. 

The petitioner's counsel said that multiple cases have been lodged in different states in the alleged scam. 

"As different high courts are seized of these matters, you can come to this (apex) court and there is no difficulty in this. But you have to file separate petitions for seeking bail in separate cases," the bench told the lawyer. 

The bench asked Mehta and advocates representing Maharashtra and some other states to file their counter-affidavit on the petition and posted the matter for hearing in the first week of July. 

Last year, the director of an online multi-level marketing company and his brother were arrested by the Pune Police in connection with an alleged multi-crore bitcoin Ponzi scheme. 

According to Pune police, an online multi-level marketing company was set up through which its director had allegedly lured investors by promising them handsome returns. 

Cases were also lodged in other states in connection with the alleged scam. 

​ ​

Related News