The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has finally it has issued a show cause notice to Crypto-Currency Exchange Zanmai Labs Pvt Ltd (WazirX) and its Directors Nischal Shetty and Sameer Hanuman Mhatre for transactions involving crypto-currencies worth Rs 2,790.74 crore, officials said.
This investigation has been initiated by Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) on the basis of the ongoing money laundering probe into Chinese-owned illegal online betting applications.
The official said that during the investigation, it was seen that the accused Chinese nationals had laundered proceeds of crime worth Rs 57 crore by converting the Indian rupees deposits into Crypto-currency Tether (USDT) and then transferring the same to Binance (exchange registered in Cayman Islands) Wallets based on instructions received from abroad.
He said that WazirX allows vide range of transactions with Crypto-currencies(CCs) including exchange of CCs with INR and vice-versa, exchange of CCs, person to person (P2P) transactions and even transfer/receipt of crypto-currency held in its pool accounts to wallets of other exchanges which could be held by foreigners in foreign locations.
The ED official claimed that WazirX does not collect the requisite documents in clear violation of the basic mandatory Anti Money Laundering (AML) and Combating of Financing of Terrorism (CFT) precaution norms and FEMA guidelines.
“In the period under investigation, users of WazirX via its pool account, have received incoming crypto-currency worth Rs 880 crore from Binance accounts and transferred out Crypto-Currency worth Rs 1,400 crore to Binance accounts,” he said.
He said that none of these transactions are available on the blockchain for any audit or investigation.
“It was found that the WazirX Clients could transfer `valuable` crypto-currencies to any person irrespective of its location and nationality without any proper documentation whatsoever, making it a safe haven for users looking for money laundering or other illegitimate activities,” he said.