Bitcoin extortion case: ‘In cover-up bid, SP visited victim’s friend to reach a compromise’https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/gujarat-police-sp-ahmedabad-bitcoin-extortion-case-a-sabarmati-5267036/

Bitcoin extortion case: ‘In cover-up bid, SP visited victim’s friend to reach a compromise’

In order to cover up his alleged role in kidnapping and Bitcoin extortion, suspended superintendent of police Jagdish Patel went to the village of the victim’s friend to strike a compromise.

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The chargesheet details how Jagdish allegedly received Rs 90 lakh booty from a co-accused, gave Rs 40 lakh back to the co-accused for legal expenses and tried to strike a compromise by visiting a friend of the “victim”. (Representational Image)

In order to cover up his alleged role in kidnapping and Bitcoin extortion, suspended superintendent of police Jagdish Patel went to the village of the victim’s friend to strike a compromise. After he failed to do this, he “threw his mobile phones and SIM cards into Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad” to destroy evidence. This is according to the Gujarat CID (Crime), which filed a chargesheet before a sessions court in Ahmedabad on Thursday against former SP of Amreli district Jagdish Patel in connection with the alleged kidnapping and extortion of Bitcoins worth over Rs 9 crore from a Surat-based “businessman” Shailesh Bhatt. Patel is currently lodged in Sabarmati Central Jail.

The chargesheet details how Jagdish allegedly received Rs 90 lakh booty from a co-accused, gave Rs 40 lakh back to the co-accused for legal expenses and tried to strike a compromise by visiting a friend of the “victim”. On February 23, following Bhatt’s complaint with the state home department, the CID filed an FIR against 10 policemen including Jagdish and several private persons including Kirit Paladiya, former BJP MLA Nalin Kotadiya and advocate Ketan Patel.

The accused allegedly kidnapped Bhatt from Gandhinagar on February 11, confined him for several hours at a farmhouse and extorted 169 Bitcoins worth over Rs 9.45 crore and attempted to extort Rs 32 crore cash but failed.
The probe established that a team led by police inspector Anant Patel of Local Crime Branch (LCB), Amreli Police, which works under the direct supervision of the superintendent of police, had kidnapped Bhatt, his aide Paladiya and their driver from a petrol pump in Gandhinagar. The CCTV footage and MOBILE PHONE locations were cited as proof.

Bhatt and the others were allegedly taken to a farmhouse, beaten up and forced to transfer 165 Bitcoins, which was kept in the digital wallet of Paladiya. Cash of Rs 32 crore was also demanded and Bhatt agreed to pay, but because it was Sunday the money couldn’t be delivered. Later, the CID found that Paladiya was the mastermind of the kidnapping.

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The chargesheet said that Jagdish was in constant touch with his junior Anant. On the basis of call data records, the CID chargesheet said that the suspended officers were “part of the whole conspiracy”. It stated that the police team received Rs 1.32 crore as “share” from Paladiya, the mastermind.

According to the chargesheet, on February 16, Anant gave Rs 90,70,400 to Jagdish, who sent this money to his relative Bhavesh Jagdish Patel, a resident of Thaltej, Ahmedabad. The accused Anant and two LCB policemen came in government vehicles at the house of Bhavesh with Rs 90 lakh cash, according to the chargesheet. At Bhavesh’s house, the money was counted and Rs 1 lakh was missing. The money was counted again and Rs 10,000 was found to be missing. Bhavesh then called Jagdish and told him about it, to which Jagdish said, “No problem. You keep the bag that has Rs 90 lakh.”

On February 23, when Bhatt filed a complaint with the home department, Jagdish allegedly called up Anant and told him to hide the money kept at Bhavesh’s house. Hiral Suthar and Ankit Patel, said to be friends of Anant, took the money from Bhavesh and gave it to Anant. He gave this bag to his friend Hardik Mahida.

“On 6th March, Jagdish Patel was in Ahmedabad. At that time accused Anant Patel was trying to cover up his crime and also demanding money for legal expenses for himself and other accused policemen. The then Amreli district Superintendent of Police gave Rs 40 lakh to Anant Patel to cover up his role and also policemen of his department,” the chargesheet stated. It added that Jagdish handed over “Rs 40 lakh to Anant Patel and his staff Vijay Vadher, Sanjay Padmani and Pratap Der on 6/4/18 at Pakwan crossroads, Ahmedabad. Jagdish’s presence has been captured in the CCTV footage”.

The chargesheet also stated that the suspended SP went to Bhatt’s friend Dharmendrasinh Gohil’s house at Pachchai village in Bhavnagar to reach a compromise. CID officials cited CCTV footage of this incident in their probe. They said in the chargesheet that Jagdish threw “mobile instruments and SIM cards into Sabarmati river, Ahmedabad which he had used in talking to co-accused Anant Patel and Ketan Patel”.

Bhatt, the victim in this case, has been booked in a similar case of kidnapping and extortion of Bitcoins worth over Rs 131 crore and cash of Rs 14.5 crore. He is alleged to have kidnapped Surat-based Dhaval Mavani, who used to deal in cryptocurrency, and extorted over 2200 Bitcoins and Rs 14.5 crore cash by posing as an income tax officer. Bhatt is absconding and has moved the High Court for quashing of the FIR against him.