Bitcoin scam: Karnataka High Court denies anticipatory bail to accused police officials

Justice Rajendra Badamikar highlighted concerns about potential manipulation of records and destruction of evidence.

BySouth First Desk

Published May 02, 2024 | 6:14 PMUpdatedMay 02, 2024 | 6:14 PM

Bitcoin scam

The Karnataka High Court refused to grant anticipatory bail to a police inspector and Deputy Superintendent of Police, who are among the accused in the Bitcoin scam case.

The bail petitions of inspector Chandradhara SR and Deputy Superintendent of Police Shridhar K Pujar, who are accused number three and five respectively in the case were earlier rejected by a sessions court.

Justice Rajendra Badamikar, delivering the verdict, highlighted concerns about potential manipulation of records and destruction of evidence, given the positions held by the petitioners. He emphasised that the allegations included attempts to destroy evidence, making their bail petitions devoid of merit.

Also Read: SIT arrest police inspector, CEO of IT firm in Bengaluru for destruction of evidence

‘Facilitated illegal activities’

Special Public Prosecutor BN Jagadeesha, representing the Crime Investigation Department (CID), argued that the accused officers were involved in facilitating illegal activities, including the transfer of funds and Bitcoins.

The CID also contended that the officers colluded with other accused individuals to destroy evidence and evade legal consequences.

The court observed that the actions of the petitioners indicated an attempt to tamper with evidence and assist accused individuals for unlawful gain. It noted instances where the officers allegedly provided illegal substances to detainees and facilitated illegal transactions.

In light of the evidence presented, the court rejected the bail petitions, affirming the seriousness of the allegations and the need for further investigation into the Bitcoin scam case.

The Bitcoin scam surfaced during the previous BJP regime in 2021, and the Congress then in the Opposition had accused the government of trying to cover up the scandal as it involved big names.

The prime suspect, Srikrishna Ramesh alias Sriki, was accused of hacking the state government’s e-procurement site and siphoning off over ₹11.5 crore.

There were also charges of cryptocurrency theft, drug peddling and cyber fraud relating to the case.

Also Read: Karnataka SIT searches places connected to accused CCB police officials

Involvement of officials

According to an FIR by the SIT, the prime accused in the case is Santhosh Kumar KS, CEO of GCID Technologies, an IT firm situated in HSR Layout followed by the other four accused police inspectors — Lakshmikanthaiah, Chandradhara, Prashanth Babu DM, and Shridhar K Pujar.

While Lakshmikanthaiah, Chandradhar and Shridhar K Pujar were the then police inspectors attached with the CCB, Prashanth Babu DM was serving as a police inspector with the Technical Support Centre in Adugodi. Sridhar K Pujar is a DySP rank officer at present, the FIR stated.

It was police inspector Prashanth Babu who had roped in an external private agency — GCID Technologies and its CEO Santhosh Kumar — directly into the Bitcoin investigation and even introduced the CEO to the other three police inspectors of the CCB asserting that he could be of immense help, SIT sources had told South First.

The SIT officials said that vital evidence was tampered with at the CCB’s office in Chamarajpete and other places between 9 November, 2020, and 16 December, 2020, by the accused officers as part of a criminal conspiracy.

SIT sources had told South First that the then-CCB investigating officers had deleted technical information of some transactions, and are even said to have planted additional files as evidence to dilute the case and to protect the accused.

(With PTI inputs)