Indian Parliament probing suspect ‘Bitcoin businesses’

An investigation into dubious digital currency businesses in India is underway, amid concerns about rampant fraud in connection with digital currencies in the country.

The investigation was revealed in a filing submitted before India’s lower house, the Lok Sabha, following a formal question to the Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur.

Center-left politician Mohammed Faizal asked the Minister whether he was aware of the “cheating and fraudulent practices by bitcoin companies”, and whether these firms “are repeatedly violating rules laid out by the Corporate Affairs Ministry by not filing annual balance sheets”.

In his answer, Minister Thakur said the companies concerned “are not defined under the Companies Act”. The Minister said only two firms dealing with BTC were registered with the Companies Registrar, and one of the companies, Zeb IT, had previously been subject to prosecutions under the Companies Act. The firm is currently in liquidation.

The other firm, Unocoin Technologies, was reported to be up to date in its filings, with the Minister saying he had yet to receive any complaints against the company.

The developments come at a time of rapid change in the Indian digital currency sector, following the decision of the Supreme Court to overturn the Reserve Bank of India’s earlier ruling effectively banning digital currency in the country.

The following day, Unocoin resumed fiat deposits, with several other exchanges including OKEx, Coindcx and Wazirx taking similar steps to resume business—despite none being registered by the authorities, according to the Minister’s answer.

International exchanges Kraken and KuCoin have since confirmed their intentions to expand into the Indian market, with both companies expected to be eyeing a share of the newly liberated Indian sector.

The Reserve Bank of India has said it intends to appeal against the Supreme Court ruling, casting doubt on whether the position is settled long-term. For the time being, digital currency exchanges and other related companies can take advantage of the ruling to rebuild the sector so badly affected by the RBI decision.

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