Indian police are reportedly facing a challenge of how to liquidate cryptocurrencies they seized since the country’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), has banned banks from providing services to crypto exchanges. The RBI ban is now in effect and a growing number of crypto exchanges have already announced they will no longer allow withdrawals from cryptocurrencies into rupees.
Court Permits Police to Liquidate Cryptocurrencies
In connection with a bitcoin scam, the Pune police’s “cybercrime cell has arrested 10 accused, including 35-year-old alleged kingpin Amit Bhardwaj and his brother Vivek Bhardwaj from Delhi,” the Pune Mirror wrote on Friday, June 6. Pune is the second largest city in the Indian state of Maharashtra, after Mumbai.
Amit Bhardwaj was arrested by the Pune police at the Delhi airport after returning from Thailand. “Two cases were registered against him in Nigdi and one in Dattawadi in Pune,” the Hindu clarified.
The Pune Mirror detailed:
During investigation, the cops seized 237.7392 bitcoins and 92.1 ethereum from the accused.
The news outlet further noted that “At conservative estimates, the cryptocurrency scam is worth Rs 35,000 crore [~5.1 billion].” The special investigation team (SIT) of the Pune police’s cybercrime cell subsequently “filed an application in the sessions court, seeking permission to sell the cryptocurrencies seized during investigation,” the publication conveyed.
In the document submitted to the court, the police asserted that to “protect the interest of investors…it has become imperative that the cryptocurrencies seized by the investigating machinery be sold or liquidated.” Citing the protection of “close to 8,000 investors, who were duped in the name of buying and investing bitcoins,” the news outlet elaborated:
The sessions court has allowed [the police] to sell off cryptocurrencies worth Rs 11 crore [~US$1.6 million].
Further Challenge Ahead
In their application to the court, before special sessions judge DG Murumkar, the police explained the difficulties of liquidating cryptocurrencies in India currently.
The central bank issued a circular on April 6, banning financial institutions under its control from servicing crypto companies. Banks had three months to stop providing services to companies dealing in cryptocurrencies, including crypto exchanges. The ban is now in effect.
The police’s document filed with the court reads:
The Reserve Bank of India has prohibited all the banks from providing services which include maintaining accounts, registering, settling, clearing, opening accounts of exchanges dealing with them and transfer or receipt of money in accounts relating to purchase or sale of virtual currencies.
The news outlet further detailed, “the cops also brought to the notice of the court that Zeb IT Services Pvt Ltd [Zebpay] and other cryptocurrency exchanges in India had issued notices to their account holders that they will be unable to liquidate cryptocurrencies held by them and withdraw balance in rupees since the banks will stop providing settlement services from July 6.”
Zebpay is one of India’s largest crypto exchanges in the country. The exchange announced on July 3 that it had stopped fiat deposits and withdrawals.
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