ED arrests Parvinder Singh, seizes Bitcoins worth Rs 130 crore in US requested probe

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ED arrests Parvinder Singh, seizes Bitcoins worth Rs 130 crore in US requested probe
New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate on Saturday said it has seized cryptocurrency worth more than Rs 130 crore and arrested a Uttarakhand-based man Parvinder Singh as part of a drugs trafficking-linked money laundering probe initiated on the request of US authorities.

Parvinder Singh was taken into custody on April 27 from Haldwani in the state’s Nainital district following a search of his premises. In a statement, the central probe agency said that the accused agreed to “surrender” the proceeds earned through the sale of illegal drugs through the dark web. Most of the sales were made in European countries, it added.

Investigation was initiated on the basis of a mutual legal assistance request received from US authorities invoking the “unique” section 2(ra) of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, it said.

The section pertains to offence of cross-border implications, with the schedule offences corresponding to the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said.

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Parvinder Singh and his brother Banmeet Singh along with some others were operating an international drug trafficking group called “Singh DTO”, it alleged. DTO, the agency said, stands for “drug trafficking organisation”.

They used vendor marketing sites on the dark web, numerous free advertisements on clear web and a network of narcotics and controlled-substance distributors to sell drugs in the US and the UK and other European countries, the ED said. The “Singh organisation”, it claimed, received “drug trafficking proceeds” through sale on dark web markets and then laundered those proceeds through cryptocurrency transactions.

Bitcoins (a form of cryptocurrency) with an equivalent value of Rs 130.48 crore as on date were seized during the course of the search operation, the agency said.

The brothers, according to the ED, used a moniker “Liston” on dark web markets like “Silk Road 1”, “Alpha Bay” and “Hansa”. “As per the information, they received Bitcoins associated with the ‘Liston’ moniker which were nothing but the proceeds of crime through illegal sale of drugs in various countries,” it said.

US authorities have already seized the Bitcoins valued at thousands of crores of rupees, the agency added.

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