The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday urged the Supreme Court to issue direction to one of the accused in the Gain Bitcoin scam to provide access, username and password, to his crypto wallet, contending that the issue of "legality of crypto currency" does not arise in the matter, as it is a ponzi scheme.
Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing the ED, submitted before a bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud that the "username and password are crucial in this matter. This has nothing to do with the legality of cryptocurrency" as she objected to the interim protection from arrest granted to the petitioner.
The bench, also comprising Justice Surya Kant, asked the petitioner Ajay Bhardwaj, one of the accused in the scam, to make full disclosure to the ED -- the username and password of the crypto currency wallet -- for interim protection to continue.
The bench also asked Bhati to file an updated status report in the matter on the next date of hearing.
The ED told the apex court that the brother of the petitioner has died, and he is in possession of the username and password of crypto wallets, which must be disclosed to the investigating officer. The petitioner's counsel submitted that some material is in custody of Pune police.
The bench asked the petitioner to file a reply for application of cancellation of bail within 2 weeks, and also directed him to fully cooperate in the investigation.
The petitioner's counsel submitted that pursuant to the directions of the top court, his client had joined the investigation on several dates.
Seeking access to crypto wallets, Bhati submitted that the focal point here is that it is investment through bitcoin and not through normal banking channels, to which the petitioner replied that Pune police had done full seizure and that all the material was lying with them.
On February 25, the bench orally asked the Centre to make its stand clear on Bitcoins.
The ED, in its affidavit, said: "It is evident that the statements of Ajay Bhardwaj are self-contradictory and he is not cooperating with the respondent in investigation. It is submitted he is either answering evasively or in negative. By giving such statements, he is only trying to mislead the investigation and withholding the important facts known to him...".
It has urged the top court to allow custodial interrogation of the petitioner, as he is in possession of crucial information required for the proceedings in the matter.
"The investigation conducted so far has revealed that Amit Bhardwaj (who died in January this year) with connivance of petitioner, Vivek Bhardwaj, Mahender Bhardwaj and others i.e, multi-level marketing agents and associates have collected 80,000 bitcoins as proceeds of crime," added the affidavit.
Source : IANS