A couple of days after the Reserve Bank of India issued an advisory to public not to indulge in buying-selling of Bitcoins, the first raid in India was undertaken in Ahmedabad by Enforcement Directorate (ED) on an entity that provide platform to trade in this illegal but virtual currency.
On Thursday, ED raided the premises of Mahim Gupta in Bopal area of the city who provides trading platform through his website -‑ buysellbit.co.in. During the preliminary investigation, the ED found that it is in clear violation of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) rules of the country as central bank does not provide permission to indulge in such transactions.
“We have found that through the website 400 persons have recorded 1,000 transactions that amount to a few crores of rupees. We are gathering the data of the transactions, name of the people who have transacted in the virtual currency from Gupta’s server that is hired in the US. At present, we believe that this is a violation of foreign exchange regulations of the country. If we are able to establish money laundering aspect then he can be arrested,” said a top ED official.
As per sources, a separate raid was also conducted in Satellite area of the city, however, the person the investigation agency was looking for could not be found. “When we reached his office, he was not there. We have sealed the premises,” the official added.
The value of transactions is not known as each transaction will be verified by the investigating agency. However, it is likely to be around Rs20-30 crore. “Value of transaction is one aspect. Being a virtual currency its transfer and settlement is done online. No country has legalised Bitcoin as of now because of its opaque nature. The biggest threat is that without recording your transaction in official foreign currency platform money can be transferred like hawala with the use of this transaction. We are examining such instances, if any, here,” the official said.
Sources also added that there are a handful of entities that provide trading in the virtual currency in India. “I think there are only five entities. Of these, we believe two are operating from Ahmedabad. We believe that they have channel of agents or people who promote the use of such currency but entities that provide online platform are few,” official said.
Because of complex nature of transaction and high level information technology security involved ED is taking help of company called ECS Corporation that specialises in forensic audit and IT technology.
Virtual currency trade is 3-year-old
Bitcoin came into existence just 3-year ago. It is a virtual currency that can be generated through complex computer software systems with solutions shared on a network. Despite new in existence, Bitcoin has already become the world’s most expensive currency and its per unit value soared past USD 1,000 level or about Rs 63,000 recently, although the prices have now slipped to Rs46,600.