The freeze is part of a money laundering investigation into a mobile gaming application.
Indian Authority Freezes Bitcoin Held at Crypto Exchange Binance
India’s Directorate of Enforcement (ED) announced Wednesday that it has frozen 77.62710139 bitcoins under the country’s Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The ED is the Indian government’s law enforcement and economic intelligence agency.
The freeze is part of the ED’s investigation into a mobile gaming application called E-nuggets. According to the announcement, the cryptocurrency was transferred from Wazirx, a popular Indian exchange, to Binance. The ED also tweeted a summary of its action.
The law enforcement agency explained that “Aamir Khan, S/o Nesar Ahmed Khan launched a mobile gaming application namely E-Nuggets, which was designed for the purpose of defrauding [the] public,” adding:
After collecting seizable amount of money from the public, all of a sudden withdrawal from the said app was stopped on one pretext or the other. Thereafter, all data including profile information was wiped off from the said app servers.
The ED explained that its investigations have revealed that the accused transferred part of the illegally earned funds overseas via the Indian crypto exchange Wazirx.
The accused allegedly opened a dummy account in the name of “Sima Naskar (Proprietor of M/s Pixal Design)” with Wazirx and used it to purchase cryptocurrencies, the ED further described, elaborating:
Thereafter the said crypto currencies were further transferred to another account in another crypto exchange, namely Binance.
“The balance of said transferred cryptocurrencies i.e. 77.62710139 bitcoins [equivalent to USD 1,573,466 (Rs 12.83 crore approximately)] at Binance crypto exchange has been freezed,” the ED wrote.
Binance was believed to have acquired Wazirx in 2019. However, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) recently said that the acquisition “was never completed,” emphasizing that “Binance has never — at any point — owned any shares of Zanmai Labs, the entity operating Wazirx.”
The ED froze the bank assets of Wazirx worth more than $8 million in August. However, earlier this month, Wazirx said that its bank accounts have been unfrozen. Following Wazirx, the ED froze crypto and bank assets worth $46 million of Vauld, a crypto platform backed by Peter Thiel. In August, the agency searched crypto exchange Coinswitch Kuber. However, the CEO of the exchange said that it was not related to money laundering investigations.