The national investigative agency of Nepal, operated by Nepal Police, has arrested the founders of bitcoin exchange Bitsewa in an ongoing crackdown in the country.
According to a report by The Himalayan last week, the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police has arrested Ram Dhakal, 32, and Pursottam Dhar Tuladhar, 26, for “allegedly operating a bitcoin racket in Kathmandu and Pokhara under the cloak of [an] online technology business.”
The two bitcoiners are founders of Bitsewa Pvt Ltd., a cryptocurrency exchange that supports trading of multiple digital currencies and the provider of a bitcoin wallet service in the country. There are no laws nor regulations for bitcoin in Nepal and, as such, cryptocurrency-related exchange businesses are considered ‘illegal’, according to a notice [PDF] published by Nepal’s central bank.
Bitsewa, which calls itself “Nepal’s first and most popular digital assets exchange supporting many blockchain assets such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Ripple, DASH…” is now offline. Bitsewa continues to see a presence on Facebook, where it revealed the shuttering of operations due to the central bank’s hardline stance.
The two arrests are a part of a wider, ongoing crackdown by Nepal’s police on bitcoin exchange operators in the country. Earlier in October, the investigation bureau arrested seven operators in various parts of Nepal. “Nepal Rastra Bank officially declared bitcoin illegal in Nepal taking strict measures such as arresting bitcoin exchange operators,” Bitsewa wrote at the time.
In conversation with CCN, a representative for Bitsewa revealed:
Our founders were arrested last week on October 26 and kept with the CIB for further investigation… There was another group of 7 individuals arrested for running a bitcoin exchanges in Nepal as well, they were the first to get arrested and they were bailed out a few days ago. We’re hoping we will be heading that way soon once CIB take our guys to court with their case, but we aren’t sure about the court date yet.
“#Nepal, is this how you are going to punish people who are doing bitcoin trading in Nepal?” read a post published today on Bitsewa’s Facebook page. “Bring the proper laws and policies first before punishing people for their innocent crime of educating public about the new technology. #FreeBitsewaFounders.”
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