Last Tuesday, the 24th of December, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued a public statement warning against the use and trade of Digital currencies.
Just 3 days later on Thursday the 27th of December, authorities raided India’s largest Bitcoin exchange, buysellbitco.in.
India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) raided 2 locations in Ahmedabad. The first location was the home of buysellbitco.in founder Mahim Gupta. The second location was the exchange’s offices, however authorities who raided the offices did not find their second suspect, Gupta’s partner. According to the ED both the exchange and Gupta, are in clear violation of India’s Foreign Exchange Management Act. The Foreign Exchange Management Act was passed in 1999, and prohibits unregulated exchange of Rupees for other currencies.
“We have found that through the website 400 persons have recorded 1,000 transactions that amount to a few crores of rupees. We are gathering the data of the transactions, name[s] of the people who have transacted in the virtual currency from Gupta’s server that is hired in the US,” said an ED official.
Shortly after the ED raid, buysellbitco.in ceased operations and posted this statement on their website.
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“Post the RBI circular, we are suspending buy and sell operations until we can outline a clearer framework with which to work. This is being done to protect the interest of our customers and in no way is a reflection of Bitcoin’s true potential or price.”
In their statement, the RBI did not lay down any rules or restrictions regarding Bicoin trading, as did the People’s Bank of China, but rather warned on the dangers of trading digital currencies. Since the ED has stated violations of the Foreign Exchange Management Act, it shows Indian officials viewing Bitcoin as an actual currency, and a threat to the local Rupee.
After their preliminary investigation, the ED estimates $3.2 to $4.8 million were transferred through buysellbitco.in