As the price of Bitcoin is touching new high each day, investors in the country are taking to the virtual currency to reap rich dividends. Bitcoin hit another all-time peak on Tuesday just two days after the launch of the first ever Bitcoin futures on a US exchange. However, this sudden surge has also turned the Income Tax Department watchful on the suspicion of alleged tax evasion. The I-T sleuths on Wednesday conducted survey operations at the nine major Bitcoin exchanges of India. Bitcoin, a virtual currency, is not regulated in the country and its circulation has been a cause of concern among central bankers the world over for quite a while now.
I-T survey of 9 Bitcoin exchanges
The various teams of the sleuths of the department, under the command of the Bengaluru investigation wing, today visited the premises of nine such exchanges in the country including in Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kochi, and Gurugram, since early morning, cited PTI quoting official sources.
Evidence collection under 133 A of I-T Act
The survey, under section 133A of the Income Tax Act, is being conducted for “gathering evidence for establishing the identity of investors and traders, transaction undertaken by them, identity of counterparties, related bank accounts used, among others,” they said. The survey teams, sources said, are armed with various financial data and inputs about the working of these exchanges and this is the first big action against them in the country.
Even the Reserve Bank of India is not much enthused by the idea of the virtual currencies. Cautioning users, holders and traders of VCs on last Tuesday, the third time since February 2013, India’s central banking institution came out with another warning letter making them aware about the potential economic, financial, operational, legal, customer protection and security related risks associated in dealing with such VCs. “In the wake of a significant spurt in the valuation of many VCs and rapid growth in Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), RBI reiterates the concerns conveyed in the earlier releases,” said the central bank. RBI clarified that it has not given any licence or authorisation to any entity or company to operate such schemes or deal with Bitcoin or any VC. Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency, reached an all-new high on Wednesday and topped the $12,000 mark for the first time ever. The Reserve Bank of India first cautioned the investors about the risks associated with trading in VCs way back on 24 December, 2013. Thereafter, it was on 1 February, 2017 another press release was issued by the central bank in this regard. Bitcoin was trading at levels of $644.64 and $985.2 on 24 December and 2 February respectively on digital asset exchange Coinbase. The first day of February was a holiday.
With PTI Inputs