India's financial regulator raids director of Binance-owned crypto exchange and freezes funds over potential fraud and money-laundering
- India's Enforcement Directorate raided properties associated with a director of WazirX, a crypto exchange owned by Binance.
- The exchange is accused of helping 16 fintech firms launder money through crypto transactions.
India's Enforcement Directorate (ED), the nation's financial regulator, raided properties associated with a director of Binance-owned crypto exchange WazirX, alleging the company assisted in fraud and money laundering.
WazirX is India's largest crypto exchange and was acquired by Binance in 2019. Regulators have conducted a search of properties related to Sameer Mhatre, a director at WazirX, and have now frozen $8.16 million of the exchange's funds, according to Reuters.
Scrutiny over WazirX comes amid a crackdown on India's fintech scene, with ongoing investigations in companies that use "predatory lending practices," the ED said in a statement on Friday. Currently, regulators have identified 16 Indian-based fintech firms they suspect of purchasing crypto assets to launder their money overseas.
When WazirX was asked about the activity, regulators said the crypto exchange was uncooperative.
"They are giving contradictory and ambiguous answers to evade oversight by Indian regulatory agencies," the ED said, noting that the exchange failed to give information on relevant transactions to regulators when asked on multiple occasions.
The company also claimed that they didn't even record details of funds that flowed into the exchange until July 2020, regulators said, adding that the "non-cooperative stand" of Mhatre led them to search his related properties.
It's not the first time WazirX has been accused wrongdoing. Last year, the ED found that the exchange laundered 570 million rupees by converting them into cryptocurrencies on Binance, according to Reuters.
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