ED Freezes Crypto WazirX’s Bank Assets In Loan App Fraud Case

The ED froze crypto exchange WazirX's bank assets worth over Rs 64 crore.

Representational image shows a man holding Bitcoin. (Source: Pexels)

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate on Friday froze cryptocurrency exchange WazirX’s bank assets worth over Rs 64 crore for alleged violation of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

The ED conducted searches on Sameer Mhatre, director of Zanmai Lab Private Limited which owns WazirX exchange, for assisting Chinese instant loan app companies in laundering of fraud money via purchase and transfer of virtual crypto assets. The federal agency alleged he was “non-cooperative”.

“It was found that Sameer Mhatre, Director WazirX, has complete remote access to the database of WazirX, but despite that he is not providing the details of the transactions relating to the crypto assets, purchased from the proceeds of crime of instant loan app fraud,” PTI quoted the Enforcement Directorate as saying.

“The lax KYC norms, loose regulatory control of transactions between WazirX and Binance, non-recording of transactions on block chains to save costs and non-recording of the KYC of the opposite wallets has ensured that WazirX is not able to give any account for the missing crypto assets,” the ED alleged in a statement.

It said the company made no efforts to trace these crypto assets. “By encouraging obscurity and having lax AML (anti-money laundering) norms, it has actively assisted around 16 accused fintech companies in laundering the proceeds of crime using the crypto route,” it said.

Therefore, the ED said, equivalent movable assets to the extent of Rs 64.67 crore lying with WazirX were frozen under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

(With PTI inputs)