Ahmedabad: A Surat-based builder got conned last month by the CBI officials and Amreli Police of Rs17 crores in total, all this with the help of one of his partners who went behind him. The CBI sleuths allegedly extorted Rs5 crores from him at first and later on Amreli police forced him to transfer Bitcoins worth Rs12 crores to them along with Rs78 lakhs in cash. When this matter came to home minister Pradipsinh Jadeja's knowledge, he ordered the CID crime branch to investigate into this matter.

One of the partners of the builder had at first gone to the CBI with information on Bitcoin trade by this businessman, which led to the CBI extorting about Rs5 crores from him. Next, the Amreli Police with the help of the same partner allegedly extorted Bitcoins worth Rs12 crores from the builder threatening of a police investigation into his dealings if he didn’t pay up. When the matter reached Gujarat home minister Pradipsinh Jadeja, he ordered the CID crime branch to investigate into the matter and find out details on this case.

The case in detail:

Sailesh Bhatt, a resident of Icon buildings at Dumas road in Surat is builder by profession who also has interest in several other business verticals, one of them being Bitcoin trading, wherein he had invested in crores of rupees. He was among the people who had declared their hidden incomes under the government’s Income Declaration Scheme (IDS) after the demonetisation. He handled his businesses with one of his partners Kirit Paladiya. Paladiya had in February, informed Bhatt that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the CBI has their eye on him and could conduct raids on his businesses anytime, so he should leave the place. At first, Bhatt didn’t trust his partner but then he got a call from the CBI office in Gandhinagar from a certain official named Sunil Nair. This scared Bhatt enough to shift to a hotel in Ahmedabad with his family.

Nair had asked Bhatt to meet him at a hotel in Gandhinagar, where he informed Bhatt that he is aware of all his business activities and that of his partners too, which included some shady dealings too. Nair threatened to conduct raids on all these businesses and houses of the people connected to it, which scared Bhatt and he decided to get strike a deal with Nair to escape these investigations. Nair in his second meeting informed Bhatt that he should pay him Rs5 crores to sweep this matter under the rug. Bhatt managed to get this amount paid along with his partners. All this while, Bhatt didn’t have a single ounce of doubt on his partner Kirit Paladiya.

On February 11, Kirit Paladiya called up Bhatt for a meeting in relation to some business, to which he agreed and arrived at Nidhi Petrol Pump near Gandhinagar. While Bhatt and Paladiya were talking, two SUVs with Amreli Police written on them arrived at the spot and pulled out both the businessmen. They began to thrash Bhatt without any provocation and bundled them both into their vehicles and left.  They overheard one of the policemen tell somebody on the call that they’ve been picked up. They were taken to Keshav farm on Chiloda highway, where an official who identified himself as inspector Anant Patel from Amreli Crime Branch continued with the thrashing of Bhatt. All this while, nobody bothered to touch Paladiya, which was surprising for Bhatt. Upon asking why he was being beaten up, they informed him that they know he deals in Bitcoins. When Bhatt pleaded that he had no information on the nitty-gritty of it and it was Paladiya who took care of this business, Patel demanded these bitcoins be transferred to him or else Bhatt will be killed. When Bhatt couldn’t take anymore of the thrashing, he agreed to move the Bitcoins, which were in Paladiya’s e-wallet account. And thus 200 Bitcoins were extorted from Bhatt by the Amreli Police.

If this was not the end to all the trouble for the builder, Patel now wanted Rs50 crores more so that a case of illegal Bitcoin trading is not filed against Bhatt. He thrashed Bhatt further in this regards, but later came down to agreeing over Rs32 crore. He asked the ransom money to be sent to a certain Iqbal via hawala transfer through an angadia. Bhatt quickly called up P Umesh Angadia to arrange for the Rs32 crores to be tramsferred. Finally he was let go of the illegal custody of the police sleuths. The angadia firm couldn’t make the payment as directed by Bhatt, the reason not just being the difficulty in arranging a huge sum as this but also that the manager of the firm Prahlad smelt rat in the call that was made by Bhatt. He felt as if the call was made by Bhatt under the pressure from someone. Thus though the manager had said yes to Bhatt, he didn’t actually green-light the money transfer. Meanwhile the police officials began to harass Bhatt again for the ransom. The aggrieved businessman then sent a certain Dilip to meet Anant Patel in regards to the ransom payment. He convinced Patel to accept a token of Rs78 lakh right now as it was difficult to arrange such a huge sum of money in a short span.

Tired of all these, Shailesh Bhatt decided to meet former Amreli MLA Nalin Kotadiya to ask for help. Kotadiya consoled the businessman that he will take up this matter with home minister Pradipsinh Jadeja, and took him to Sachivalay in Gandhinagar to meet him. But Kotadiya simply went inside and came out to tell Bhatt that he should rather pay up the policemen as this is a very serious matter now. Not to give up, Bhatt had on 23rd February directly met Pradipsinh Jadeja and narrated the whole chain of incidents to him. A surprised Jadeja ordered the CID Crime Branch head Ashish Bhatia to look into this matter and begin an investigation into it. They took a complaint and statement from Bhatt and have begun investigating into the matter. When a MeraNews correspondent got in touch with the angadia firm, they confirmed of getting directions from Bhatt to transfer the money, but Rs32 crores being a huge sum to arrange, they couldn’t carry out the transaction. Phonecalls to inpector Anant Patel went unanswered. Amreli police chief Jagdish Patel feigned ignorance on why Patel had picked up Bhatt just like that, he added that maybe it would be regarding some case he was working on. He tried to cut short the conversation by saying that now the matter is with CID crime branch and they are the ones investigating it.

Speaking to MeraNews, Nalin Kotadiya said, “All the allegations by Shailesh Bhatt on me are false. I don’t know him personally, but I met him through my nephew and his partner Kirit Paladiya. I actually tried to tell Shailesh that he should return the money he had taken from people. Shailesh is notorious for gobbling up government land and there are about 28 other cases in his name. Kotadiya admitted that Shailesh and him went to meet home minister Pradipsinh Jadeja, but that meeting didn’t materialise. I didn’t take him there to get relief or something for him, but with a representation that Shailesh would return all the money to those people from whom he had borrowed to invest in Bitcoin. I have written to Pradipsinh Jadeja to start legal proceedings against Shailesh Bhatt for his illegal activities.