https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... n-in-india
As the price of bitcoin soared last year from less than $1,000 to more than $19,700, so did BitConnect’s value. Bhatt and other investors in Gujarat poured bitcoin worth $3.2 billion into Bitconnect, according to Bhatia.
The vast inflows from Indian investors were partly the result of Modi’s shock move in November 2016 to invalidate banknotes worth 15 trillion rupees in an effort to curb tax evasion, according to a chartered accountant in Gujarat. Modi, who faces federal elections in early 2019, ruled the state as chief minister for more than a decade before becoming prime minister in 2014 with the promise of stamping out corruption.
As a result of Modi’s 2016 demonetization, about 45 billion rupees ($650 million) flowed to Gujarat’s port city of Surat, to be hidden away in assets including cryptocurrencies, said the accountant, who asked not to be identified because his clients include some of the city’s biggest diamond and textile traders.
Surat, the heart of the scandal, is famed for its entrepreneurial merchants who travel the world to set up a “dhandha,” or family business. Their tight-knit communities dominate Antwerp’s diamond trade and own a quarter of U.S. motels.
In the days following Modi’s demonetization -- when Indians were given about 60 days to bank their higher-value banknotes or lose them -- Google marked a surge in queries from the country on how to launder untaxed cash, or black money. Most of the searches came from Gujarat, Google Trends show.
Still, those who had been trying to hide untaxed cash were in a quandary. If they went to the authorities, they would have to declare their investments.
So Bhatt and nine accomplices -- including Paladiya -- kidnapped two BitConnect representatives in Surat and demanded 2,256 bitcoin as ransom, CID investigators alleged. Paladiya, however, wanted more. He contacted his influential uncle, Kotadiya, and tapped the latter’s network in the local police to double-cross Bhatt and allegedly extort his bitcoin, according to allegations in police documents and interviews with investigators.
They were confident of success, gambling that Bhatt wouldn’t go to the authorities and certain that the anonymity of bitcoin would make the heist untraceable, according to the investigators.
They were wrong. Bhatt pressed charges.