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BITCOIN CASE: Former MLA Nalin Kotadiya pronounced proclaimed offender

The Ahmedabad sessions court on Monday declared former MLA Nalin Kotadiya as a proclaimed offender in the Rs9.95 crore bitcoin extortion case of Surat.

The CID (Crime) had moved court last week after Kotadiya failed to turn up before it for questioning despite repeated summons, and efforts to trace him failed. The court accepted CID’s application and declared the ex-MLA as a proclaimed offender, and directed him to appear before it within 30 days.

The court also issued an arrest warrant against Jatin Patel, another accused in the multi-crore rupee Bitcoin case. Kotadiya, who was elected to the assembly from Dhari constituency in Amreli in 2012, before switching sides to the BJP last year, went missing after his name surfaced in the bitcoin scam. Officials said that Kotadiya was in touch with the accused through phone and messages at the time of the crime.

After summons was issued to him twice last month, Kotadiya issued a statement claiming innocence and alleged that he was being framed. He also said that he would remain present before police for questioning. However, he is yet to do so, and police suspect that he may have fled outside the country. A lookout notice was also issued against him last month.

CID has so far arrested six people, including Amreli SP Jagdish Patel and PI Anant Patel, for being involved in the bitcoin extortion case.

According to officials, a team of Amreli police had abducted Surat-based builder Shailesh Bhatt, and his associate and Kotadiya’s nephew Kirit Paladiya, in a bid to extort bitcoins from him, on February 11. Subsequent investigations show that Paladiya was the mastermind of the conspiracy, and had made a deal with SP Jagdish Patel and others to extort the crypto-currency from Bhatt and to share the spoils. A total of 176 bitcoins, worth Rs10 lakh, were extorted from Bhatt.

The former MLA allegedly received Rs66 lakh of the money that was extorted from Bhatt. Of this Rs25 lakh was recovered from his nephew last month. However, in yet another twist in the case, cops registered a case against original complainant Bhatt. According to the complaint, days before his own abduction, Bhatt had abducted one Dhaval Mavani, who was running a crypto-currency firm in Surat, on February 1, and extorted Rs155 crore from him.

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