New Delhi: Directorate of Enforcement (ED) has issued a show-cause notice to cryptocurrency exchange WazirX’s officially registered entity M/s Zanmai Labs Pvt Ltd and its directors Nischal Shetty and Sameer Hanuman Mhatre under Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999, (FEMA), for transactions involving crypto-currencies worth Rs 2790.74 crore.
ED initiated FEMA investigation on the basis of the ongoing money-laundering investigation into Chinese owned illegal online betting applications. During the course of the investigation, it was seen that the accused Chinese nationals had laundered proceeds of crime worth Rs 57 crore approximately by converting the INR deposits into cryptocurrency Tether (USDT) and then transferring the same to Binance (exchange registered in the Cayman Islands) wallets based on instructions received from abroad.
WazirX allows a wide range of cryptocurrency transactions including INR exchange and vice-versa, person to person (P2P) transactions, and even transfer/receipt of cryptocurrency held in its pool accounts to wallets of other exchanges which could be held by foreigners in foreign locations.
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 cryptocurrency worth Rs 880 crore from Binance accounts and transferred out cryptocurrency worth Rs 1400 Crore to Binance accounts.
None of these transactions is available on the blockchain for any audit or investigation. It was found that the WazirX clients could transfer ‘valuable’ cryptocurrencies to any person irrespective of their location and nationality without any proper documentation whatsoever, making it a safe haven for users looking for money laundering/other illegitimate activities.