Bitcoin theft: Sriki’s money manager Robin Khandelwal arrested

The arrest comes nearly three weeks after the SIT apprehended Srikrishna for stealing 60.6 Bitcoins from a Tumakuru-based cryptocurrency exchange in 2017.
Last Updated : 26 May 2024, 02:28 IST
Last Updated : 26 May 2024, 02:28 IST

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Bengaluru: In a fresh development in the infamous Bitcoin case, Robin Khandelwal, a close confidante of serial hacker Srikrishna alias Sriki, was arrested early on Saturday by the Special Investigation Team (SIT). 

A well-placed source in the SIT told DH that one of its teams picked up Khandelwal from Rajasthan. The arrest comes nearly three weeks after the SIT apprehended Srikrishna for stealing 60.6 Bitcoins from a Tumakuru-based cryptocurrency exchange in 2017. 

Before Khandelwal’s arrest on Saturday, the SIT invoked Section 3 of the Karnataka Control of Organised Crime Act (KCOCA), 2000, in the FIR filed at the New Extension police station in Tumakuru. 

The SIT invoked the KCOCA after obtaining permission from the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) court in Bengaluru. 

The KCOCA Act deals with the prevention and control of criminal activities by organised crime syndicates and provides for six months of imprisonment without
bail.  This is the first time the SIT has announced that Khandelwal, who hails from West Bengal, is also a suspect in the 2017 Bitcoin theft case. 

The case was transferred to the SIT, which believes Srikrishna and Khandelwal carried out multiple cryptocurrency thefts. 

“As Srikrishna and Khandelwal are involved in several cases, such as the Tumakuru theft case, the KCOCA has been invoked, and investigations are ongoing,” the SIT said in a statement. 

According to a senior police officer monitoring the investigations, Srikrishna and Khandelwal are suspected in many such cases and have been named in several charge sheets. They will also be named in some more charge sheets. Since opening a fresh case to invoke the KCOCA would be a cumbersome process, the stringent act has been invoked in the Tumakuru case itself, the officer added. 

A well-placed source in the investigating team told DH that they had achieved a breakthrough about how their nexus operated. 

Money transfer

“Khandelwal acted at Srikrishna’s behest. The latter would hack into websites and wallets to steal cryptocurrencies and transfer them to Khandelwal. Khandelwal would convert them into Indian currency and withdraw the money. He would also transfer the money to people as directed by Srikrishna,” the source explained. 

According to the source, the digital trail from a laptop seized from Srikrishna provided insights about his interactions with Khandelwal. The device also provided a breakthrough in the Tumakuru case, leading to the arrest of Srikrishna. 

The source stressed that extracting digital leads from Srikrishna’s laptop shows the Karnataka CID’s cutting-edge technological capabilities and the skills of the investigators in the state agency.  The SIT operates under the CID. 

Khandelwal and Srikrishna were arrested on November 14, 2020, by the Central Crime Branch (CCB), according to the recent FIR filed by the SIT at the CID cybercrime police station. Both were later released on bail. 

Published 26 May 2024, 02:28 IST

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