The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has registered a case against bitcoin-based investment website GainBitcoin, founder Amit Bhardwaj and eight other persons under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
The charge is cheating about 8,000 investors of about Rs 20 billion in Maharashtra, said an ED officer. The move follows the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)'s directive to lenders and payment firms to not deal with cryptocurrencies.
The ED action follows earlier action by the police in Pune. Early this week, the latter's cyber cell arrested Amit Bhardwaj and eight others on the charge of operating a Ponzi scheme in bitcoin, of falsely investors a 10 per cent monthly return.
Bhardwaj was reportedly having ventures such as GainBitcoin, GBMiners, MCAP and GB21. The police's cyber team alleges the offences here include fake cryptocurrency and fake websites, beside criminal breach of trust, cheating, forgery, criminal intimidation and criminal conspiracy. Also, of luring investors to invest in a bitcoin scheme called GB21 on their website, www.gainbitcoin.com, owned by a Variable Tech Pvt Ltd, registered at Singapore.
The ED and police are also expanding the probe, by examining 27 related cases across the country. The cyber police acted on a complaint filed by a Bhimsen Agarwal on March 15.
Earlier this week, RBI stated that “regulated entities which already provide such services (cyrptocurrencies) shall exit the relationship within a specified time. A circular in this regard is being issued separately. RBI has also constituted an inter-departmental group to study and provide guidance on the feasibility to introduce a central bank digital currency. The report will be submitted by end-June".