India freezes bitcoin at Binance amid a Wazirx cryptocurrency exchange investigation

Photo Credit: getty image

More than 77.6 bitcoins that were transferred from the Indian cryptocurrency exchange Wazirx to Binance have reportedly been frozen by India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED). An investigation into money laundering involving a mobile gaming app is what prompted the freeze.

According to India’s Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) announced on Wednesday that it had frozen 77.62710139 bitcoins (PMLA). The ED is the law enforcement and economic intelligence organization of the Indian government.

The freeze is a component of the ED’s inquiry into the mobile game E-nuggets. The cryptocurrency was reportedly transferred from Wazirx, a well-known Indian exchange, to Binance. Additionally, the ED tweeted a synopsis of its action.India Freezes Bitcoin Held at Crypto Exchange Binance in Ongoing Investigation Involving Wazirx

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 ED reported that “the balance of said transferred cryptocurrencies, i.e. 77.62710139 bitcoins [equivalent to USD 1,573,466 (roughly Rs 12.83 crore)] at Binance crypto exchange has been frozen.”

Wazirx was thought to have been purchased by Binance in 2019. The acquisition “was never completed,” according to Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ), who also emphasized that Binance “has never — at any point — owned any shares of Zanmai Labs, the entity operating Wazirx.”

In August, the ED froze Wazirx’s bank assets totaling more than $8 million. Wazirx claimed that its bank accounts had been unfrozen earlier this month, though. Following Wazirx, the ED froze $46 million worth of bank and cryptocurrency assets belonging to Vauld, a Peter Thiel-backed cryptocurrency platform. 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.