After the lift of the crypto ban last year by the Indian Supreme Court, India's central bank securities regulator SEBI, and the Indian government have been constantly voicing concerns over the use of crypto over the last few months. One of the major reasons cited by authorities has been the use of crypto for illicit activities and money laundering.
Earlier this week, an SUV filled with explosives was found to be parked outside the house of Asia's richest man Mukesh Ambani, who lives in Mumbai, India. The authorities were alarmed at the discovery and as the investigation proceeds, a man named Jaish-ul-Hind has claimed responsibility for this bomb threat on the Telegram application and has demanded a ransom in crypto citing future threats if Ambani fails to pay them. It was later revealed that the terrorists had even threatened to harm Ambani's son and other family members.
The cryptocurrency that the ransom was asked in is Monero, which is a privacy-focused cryptocurrency that was released in 2014. It is an open-source protocol based on CryptoNote and uses an obfuscated public ledger which means that anyone across the world can send or broadcast transactions, but no outside observer can tell the source, amount, or destination of the transaction. While the technology behind the coin is really exemplary, many illicit players across the world have been found to be using it for malicious purposes.
As a result of these activities, lawmakers have been increasingly forced to ban the use of such privacy-based cryptocurrencies. Even the U.S. Justice Department raised concerns on Monero last year and the agency also announced a price reward of half-a-million dollars for anyone who could break into the Monero code. However, no one has been able to make its way through Monero's fool-proof technology just yet.
The Mumbai Police working on this case has said that it has no record of any outfit called 'Jaish ul Hind', which had earlier claimed responsibility for leaving explosives in an abandoned car outside Ambani's home Antilia in Mumbai. However, a second statement by Jaish ul Hind later said that it had nothing to do with the bomb scare outside the Ambani's residence.
We checked the Monero coin address that was attached to the first message and it does not exist while we also do not know of any organisation called Jaish uL Hind. This may have been done to divert the investigation into the case.
The COVID-19 economic crisis has made many people realize the worth of cryptocurrencies as several giant corporations have been pouring billions in the crypto market recently. However, India's crypto market is still much smaller in size with only avout a billion dollars in total crypto exposure. Unfortunately events like this have only added insult to the injury and as per the some of the latest reports, India is most likely going to be proceeding ahead with the crypto ban and investors will probably be given a 3-6 months time frame to liquidate their holdings.