Betrayal In The Force: How An Indian Officer’s Bitcoin Theft Could Change Crypto Policing Forever

In a striking crypto breach of trust, an Indian police officer, Chandrahar SR, was recently arrested for illicitly siphoning off Bitcoin worth approximately INR 1.8 crores ($216,000).

This misconduct occurred amid an investigation into a major cryptocurrency scam that dates back to 2017.

The Scam And The Breach

Chandrahar, a former inspector with the Central Crime Branch (CCB), exploited his position to access and transfer Bitcoin from the digital wallet of a hacker involved in the scam.

This wallet was supposed to be secure evidence in an ongoing probe into illicit activities encompassing several high-profile hacks of cryptocurrency exchanges, including Bitfinex and Unocoin, orchestrated by the hacker Srikrishna Ramesh and his accomplice Robin Khandelwal.

Despite the duo amassing around $660,000 through their cybercrimes, Chandrahar’s actions precipitated a severe breach of the legal and ethical conduct expected of law enforcement officials.

The initial disappearance of the BTC led to the formation of a Special Investigation Team (SIT), which uncovered misconduct after noticing discrepancies in the handling of evidence.

Chandrahar, along with two other officers and a private cyber expert, Santosh Kumar, manipulated access to the wallet, coercing Khandelwal into transferring the funds and then attempting to erase any trace of their involvement.

Their actions not only undermined the integrity of the police force but also jeopardized the entire investigation. The arrest was made after Chandrahar had been escaping capture following a failed attempt to secure “anticipatory bail.” An officer from the SIT team noted:

We have taken Chandradhar into custody for five days after producing him before the court on Wednesday.

The charges against him and his accomplices include illegal confinement, breach of trust by a public servant, and destruction of evidence. This case highlights a significant betrayal of public trust and underscores the challenges of policing digital assets within the existing law enforcement frameworks.

India’s Stance On Crypto

This incident occurs against India’s increasingly stringent stance on cryptocurrencies. Recently, the nation implemented “hefty taxation rules” on crypto transactions and took decisive action against several international crypto exchanges.

Particularly, in December last year, India’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) issued compliance notices to various platforms, compelling them to comply with local regulations.

Additionally, the Information Ministry was requested to block the URLs of nine prominent exchanges, effectively limiting their access within the country. The exchanges impacted include Binance, Kraken, KuCoin, Huobi, Gate.io, Bittrex, Bitstamp, MEXC, and Bitfinex.

In response to these regulatory measures, Binance has taken significant steps to restore its regional operations. As of April, the exchange has aligned itself with India’s anti-money laundering and tax laws and paid a $2 million fine to reform its operations in South Asia.

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