Ahmedabad, May 4 (PTI) The Gujarat CID today arrested Kirit Padalia, allegedly the mastermind in the crime of looting 176 bitcoins worth over Rs 9 crore from his partner and builder Sailesh Bhatt, officials said.
The case has so far seen the arrest of Amreli Superintendent of Police Jagdish Patel, Amreli local Crime Branch inspector Anant Patel, two constables and others. Seven policemen, allegedly involved in the case, are on the run.
“We have arrested Kirit Padalia today in the bitcoin case. He is the partner of the complainant and the mastermind of the entire conspiracy,” CID DIG Dipankar Trivedi told reporters in Gandhinagar.
According to the police, the complainant, Bhatt, a builder based in Surat, used to deal in crypto currencies, and he made Padalia a partner as the latter was well versed with technology.
According to Bhatt’s complaint, a CBI officer, Sunil Nair, had, in February, called and threatened him with a case as dealing in crytpo currencies had been banned by the government.
Bhatt’s complaint further alleged that Nair had taken Rs 5 crore from him for not filing a case.
Bhatt had told police that he, along with Padalia, was kidnapped by Amreli police when he arrived in Gandhinagar on February 11.
His complaint stated that he was taken to a farmhouse where he was assaulted by inspector Anant Patel and some other policemen and forced to transfer 176 bitcoins and Rs 32 crore to the police.
The complainant narrated his ordeal to Gujarat Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja who asked the state CID to investigate.
CID DIG Dipankar Trivedi said that investigations had shown that 176 bitcoins never got transferred from Padalia’s account to that of the police.
“This entire plan was hatched by Padalia, he was the mastermind. On February 11, when they were kidnapped, Bhatt had told Padaliya to transfer the bitcoins to police to save himself,” DIG said.
“Padalia, who is a good technical hand and used to handle bitcoin transactions of Bhatt, convinced Bhatt that he had transferred bitcoins to police. But, actually, Padalia did not transfer the crypto currency and kept them in his possession,” he said.
The police, the middlemen and Padaliya were all in it together, Trivedi said.
“The booty was to be divided between Padalia, police and middlemen. Padalia later sold 34 bitcoins out of 176 and gave 15 per cent of the money, which comes to Rs 1.32 crore, to police, including the SP (Jagdish Patel), PI (Anant Patel) and other constables. While another 15 per cent( Rs 1.32 crore) was given to middlemen Ketan Patel and others,” he said.
“Padalia kept the remaining 70 per cent of the bitcoins with himself,” Trivedi said.
The market value of a bitcoin, as on February 11, was Rs 5.37 lakh, so the value of 176 bitcoins came to Rs 9.45 crore, he said.
He said that Padalia had hatched the entire plan with middlemen Ketan Patel who had roped in Amreli district police as well.
Ketan Patel has already been arrested in connection with the case.
Regarding the allegations made by Bhatt against CBI officer Sunil Nair, Trivedi said that a report on it had been sent to the investigative agency’s headquarters in New Delhi.
Trivedi informed that the name of former BJP MLA, Nalin Kotadia, had cropped up during the questioning of the accused.
Trivedi added that the police was yet to question Kotadia.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.