Nearly $3.5 million in bitcoin were stolen by suspected insiders who broke into Indian cryptocurrency exchange Coinsecure. The digital currency venue suspended operations on Friday while it investigates the breach, saying it was working with Delhi Police’s Cyber Cell.
“Our Bitcoin funds have been exposed and seemed to have been siphoned out to an address that is outside our control,” the company said in a statement late Thursday. However, Delhi-based Coinsecure confirmed that its system wasn’t hacked or compromised and that even if funds are not recovered, the exchange is willing to pay from its own pocket to compensate customers.
The company’s founder and CEO Mohit Kalra told local media that he suspects the exchange’s Chief Security Officer Amitabh Saxena may have had a hand in this theft, or at least he is the one to blame.
CEO Kalra explained that the losses occurred while the head of security was extracting Bitcoin Gold in order to distribute the cryptocurrency to customers. He added that Amitabh Saxena was the only official that had private keys to the exchange’s main wallet.
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“Private keys should have never been exported online. It looks like a crime committed intentionally. We have shared our suspicions with the Cyber Cell, and contacted specialists to find out the source of the hack and trace the bitcoins,” Kalra said.
He added: “As the private keys are kept with Dr. Amitabh Saxena, we feel that he is making a false story to divert our attention and he might have a role to play in this entire incident. Dr. Amitabh Saxena also has an Indian passport and he might fly out of the country soon. Therefore, his passport should be seized so he cannot fly out of the country.”
Coinsecure, which calls itself the leading Bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange in India, said it detected the unauthorized access to its system on Monday while going through all the wallets. The hack resulted in approximately 438 Bitcoins being stolen, worth about 200 million rupees ($3.5 million) at current prices.
The news came a few days after India’s central bank decided to ban banks from dealing with cryptocurrency exchanges, in what some Indian enthusiasts described a restrained first step towards imposing an outright ban on the virtual coins that have recently exploded in popularity in the country.