Karnataka: Why Siddaramaiah wants protection for accused Bitcoin hacker
Congress' Leader of Opposition in Karnataka Siddaramaiah on Monday asked Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to provide protection to Sri Krishna or SriKi, the key accused in a Rs. 46 crore Bitcoin scam. The former CM said that the security of Sri Krishna is important as the case "attracted global attention and it is suspected that many powerful people are involved in it."
Why does this story matter?
The one-year-old case involving a high-profile hacker has whipped up a political storm in Karnataka. The allegation of corruption was raised after the reported "disappearance" of 31 Bitcoins, claimed to have been recovered from the hacker by the police. Meanwhile, Opposition Congress in Karnataka has been criticizing the ruling BJP government over the alleged scam.
Siddaramaiah questions police's behavior
Siddaramaiah tweeted, "The dramatic arrest on a small charge and similarly dramatic release on bail of Sri Krishna after the bitcoin scam came to light, and subsequent behavior of the police raises suspicion." He further said there could be a threat to Sri Krishna's life as Bitcoin scam is a technology-driven crime, and all "information, including passwords, is in Sriki's memory."
Siddaramaiah also questioned SriKi's 'drug-addiction'
Siddaramaiah asked several questions to the government and investigating agencies on the alleged drug addiction of the accused. "Is SriKi a drug addict even now? If so, was the medical test conducted when the police arrested him?" "If the medical test confirmed him to be an addict, was suitable treatment given? The CM and the Home Minister should provide information on this," he continued.
Congress alleges BJP's hand
Congress has been questioning the BJP-led government over the "disappearance" of 31 Bitcoins worth Rs. 9 crore. The Bitcoins were seized by the Bengaluru police in January from the accused. Citing court documents, Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar asked, "The CCB (Bengaluru Central Crime Branch) claims to have seized 31 Bitcoins, so where are those now? The government has to answer these questions."
CM dismisses Congress' allegations
Karnataka CM Bommai has denied corruption allegations leveled by Congress. He claimed no one from the BJP government in the state was involved in Bitcoin dealings with Sri Krishna. Instead, he asked Congress to provide evidence of corruption. Separately, the state's Home Minister Araga Jnanendra alleged that Congress is "creating unnecessary confusion" over the alleged Bitcoin scam.
What is the Bitcoin controversy?
In November 2020, CCB had arrested 26-year-old Sri Krishna in a case of procuring drugs using Bitcoins. However, further investigation revealed that he was also a hacker and involved in ransomware attacks; hacking into Bitcoin exchanges, and money laundering. During interrogation, CCB had reportedly recovered 31 Bitcoins from the accused. The controversy was triggered after the claim of recovery was later retracted.
SriKi claims to have stolen 5,000 Bitcoins
In his statement to the police, the accused has claimed that he had stolen over 5,000 Bitcoins through hacking various Bitcoin exchanges. Meanwhile, Karnataka Police has also filed six hacking and Internet-linked cases against him. These include stealing Rs. 11.5 crore from the Karnataka government's e-procurement cell in 2019; a ransomware attack on the Department of Urban Land Transport in 2020, etc.