An Indian court declared former Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) Nalin Kotadiya a proclaimed offender in connection with a Bitcoin (BTC) extortion case amounting to $1.3 million, Business Standard reported June 18.
Judge PG Tamakuwala declared Kotadiya a proclaimed offender or “absconder” under Section 82 of the Code of Criminal Procedure with reference to an application filed by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). Kotadiya “remained untraceable,” even after a warrant was issued for his arrest. The CID initatiated proceedings again, seeking that the court should declare him a proclaimed offender.
In India, a proclaimed offender proceeding is a procedure of the court, by which the court announces the individual as a wrongdoer and compels police to apprehend the individual named in the procedure. The passport of the wrongdoer is also confiscated so that they may not flee the country. The ruling ordered Kotadiya to appear before the court within 30 days.
Earlier, the complainant in the case, an Indian businessman Sailesh Bhatt, alleged that in February policemen kidnapped him and his business partner Kirit Paladia, kept him confined at a farmhouse and extorted BTC worth approximately $1.3 million owned by Paladia. Bhatt also said that Nalin Kotadiya was involved in that he pressured him to pay the ransom. The policemen were subsequently arrested in connection with the case.
Kotadiya is a former MLA of the ruling BJP from Dhari in the Amreli district. He is also a leader of the Patidar caste.
Earlier this month, cybersecurity company Carbon Black published a report stating that roughly $1.1 billion worth of cryptocurrency has been stolen in the first half of 2018. Estimates show that there are 12,000 marketplaces and 34,000 offerings associated with cryptotheft that hackers can take advantage of.
Speaking at the Money20/20 Europe conference on June 4, former U.S. Federal Prosecutor Mary Beth Buchanan said that “a lot more” crimes have been committed with fiat currencies than crypto. Buchanan also stressed that there are now many “commercially available” tools that law enforcement can leverage to trace how currency has moved on a blockchain.
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