Bitcoin traders under I-T scanner

Officials conduct a survey of agencies in nationwide operation.

Updated - December 13, 2017 10:26 pm IST

Published - December 13, 2017 12:46 pm IST - New Delhi

Bitcoin (virtual currency) coin is seen in an illustration picture taken at La Maison du Bitcoin in Paris, France, June 23, 2017.

Bitcoin (virtual currency) coin is seen in an illustration picture taken at La Maison du Bitcoin in Paris, France, June 23, 2017.

Bitcoin transactions, an emerging instrument of investment unregulated by any law, have come under the Income Tax Department scanner. On Wednesday, I-T officials started a survey of nine bitcoin traders/agencies in a nationwide operation.

Sources in the I-T Department said the survey was being conducted on multiple locations of bitcoin traders in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, New Delhi, Gurugram, Ghaziabad, and Hyderabad, where most of these traders are located. The survey launched by the I-T Department’s Investigation wing in Bengaluru was initiated after unearthing investments in bitcoins by an individual during a search operation recently.

“Bitcoins are an emerging area of investment unregulated by any law. We suspect high networth individuals to have invested in bitcoins, and we are checking on the source of their investment,” an official in the department said. According to sources, investment in bitcoins has emerged as a “safe haven” since there is hardly any regulation. “The department wanted to ascertain what is the extent of investment, who are investing, whether investments are accounted for and what they are doing with the return on investment,” sources said.

An official said while they did not expect much to come out of the survey, the data collection could help in bringing about a regulation on investment in cryptocurrencies.

So far, the Reserve Bank of India has only issued a cautionary note to users of virtual currencies against risks.

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