Bitcoin scam: CBI officer booked for extortion

Photo for representation.

Nearly 21 months after an ex BJP MLA and ten policemen including a Superintendent of Police rank officer were booked for extortion and kidnapping of people involved in Bitcoin worth over Rs 140 crore fraud, the Central Bureau of Investigation booked one of its officers who was posted in Gandhinagar back then for allegedly extorting Rs 5 crore from the same accused involved in the fraud. 

The Bitcoin scam was being investigated by Gujarat CID (crime) and CBI had no role in it. Incidentally, the name of accused CBI inspector Sunil Nair had surfaced in January-February 2018 during an investigation into Surat-based "businessman" Shailesh Bhatt's kidnapping by a group of policemen in Gandhinagar allegedly on the instruction of then Amreli district Superintendent of Police Jagdish Patel. 

During that time, Nair's name figured in the probe that suggested his alleged attempt to extort money from Bhatt. In the middle of the investigation, Nair was suddenly transferred to Shilong. Apart from Nair, CBI FIR also names Surat-based Kirit Paladiya. 

The FIR states that “Sunil Nair entered into a criminal conspiracy with Kirit Madhubhai Paladiya in February 2018 to obtain undue and illegal pecuniary benefits from one Shailesh Bhatt by abusing his official position as CBI inspector at Gandhinagar.” 

FIR reveals that Nair called Shailesh Bhatt at CBI office on February 5, 2018, and “threatened him with dire consequences of getting him raided by Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax for earning black money from illegal acts. Sunil Nair demanded Rs10 crore for settling the matter and later agreed for Rs5 crore.”

As a matter of fact, Nair called Bhatt from his office landline and “directed him to attend CBI office.” Bhatt complied and came with his associates Jignesh Moradiya, Kirit Vala and and his advocate Dharmesh Patel where “Nair threatened them with serious consequences for extorting bitcoins from Dhawal Mawani.” 

Bhatt yielded and gave Rs4 crore to Nair through Kirit Paladiya and later Rs60 lakh was also arranged. Paladiya was closely associated with Bhatt. Earlier, the CID probe had revealed that it was Paladiya who allegedly conspired with Amreli police and ex BJP MLA Nalin Kotadaiya and masterminded kidnapping of Bhatt to extort Rs12 crore. 

Further probe revealed that Bhatt himself had extorted 2,256 Bitcoins worth over Rs 145 crore from a Surat-based person identified as Dhaval Mawani by posing as an income tax officer. Mawani too is allegedly have duped hundreds of businessmen who had invested the money in a Ponzi-like scheme in Bitcoin in Surat. Paladiya, being closely associated with Bhatt, knew and hence conspired with police and Nair to extract money.

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