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Thursday, December 02, 2021

Karnataka Bitcoin row: Congress questions Bommai’s PM claim, seeks answers on ‘disappearance’

“Instead of asking the CM of Karnataka to investigate… is it correct for the Prime Minister to tell him to ignore the allegations? Can the Prime Minister unilaterally decide what he wants?” former chief minister Siddaramaiah said.

By: Express News Service | Bengaluru |
Updated: November 12, 2021 10:30:03 pm
SiddaramaiahCongress leader Siddaramaiah (file photo)

The Congress Friday questioned Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai’s claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to not worry about a Bitcoin-linked corruption issue in the state. The party also demanded answers from the BJP government on the alleged disappearance of 31 Bitcoins worth Rs 9 crore, claimed to have been seized by Bengaluru police in January from a hacker.

The opposition party released court documents to show that 31 Bitcoins which the Bengaluru police had claimed to have seized from an international hacker had gone missing.

Bommai, following a visit to New Delhi on Thursday, has said that PM Modi had asked him “not to bother too much about the Bitcoin issue”.

“The chief minister has said that he has spoken to the PM on the bitcoin issue and that the PM has said it is not an important issue. Will there be smoke without fire? The CCB (Bengaluru Central Crime Branch) claims to have seized 31 Bitcoins so where are those now? The government has to answer these questions,” said Karnataka Congress chief D K Shivakumar.

“As an opposition party we are making allegations based on documents we have gathered and what officials have told us. If it is not an important issue what was the need to bring it up in a meeting with the PM. If it has been discussed at the highest level it is an important issue. We have information about the people involved in this issue,” Shivakumar said.

Former chief minister Siddaramaiah posted, “Instead of asking the CM of Karnataka to investigate and prove innocence, how is it correct for the Prime Minister to tell him to ignore the allegations? Can the Prime Minister unilaterally decide what he wants?”

“Bommai is the present CM and was also a home minister under the previous Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa. By asking the CM to ignore at this stage of the investigation, is the Prime Minister asking him to drop the investigation?” Siddaramaiah said.

“We don’t know if Bommai is involved in the bitcoin scam or not. All we are asking is to investigate it properly and punish the guilty,” the former Congress CM said.

On Friday, Congress leaders Priyank Kharge and A S Ponnana released statements given to the police by alleged hacker Srikrishna, alias Sriki, 26, and his associate Robin Khandelwal, 32, following their arrest in November 2020 in a Bitcoin-for-drugs case. The statements suggest that the hacker obtained nearly 5,000 Bitcoins through hacking. The Congress also released documents to show that 31 Bitcoins were not seized from the hacker as claimed by the police in January.

“Where are the 31.8 + 186 Bitcoins worth 100 crores as shown in the screenshot of 3rd panchnama of Crime No 45/2020? Since it is not withdrawn to the police wallet, who has them now?” Kharge said at a press conference.

He said that the accused hacker was in the custody of authorities for over 100 days after the initial arrest in November 2020 but there had been “zero recovery of Bitcoins”.

Meanwhile, Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra on Thursday accused the grand old party of “creating unnecessary confusion” over the alleged bitcoin scam. He asked Congress leaders to provide any evidence they have to the investigating agencies.

Jnanendra said the accused in the bitcoin case, Srikrishna alias Sriki, was arrested during the Congress regime in connection with a brawl in a hotel. “Congress leaders knew who all were associated with him. Let Congress leaders, without mixing politics in the bitcoin issue, provide evidence they have,” Jnanendra said in a statement.

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