India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) has unfrozen the accounts of crypto exchange WazirX, according to the exchange’s update.
The exchange’s bank accounts were unfrozen following “active cooperation” with the ED via active anti-money laundering (AML) checks which blocked “suspicious accounts,” read today’s announcement.
The exchange, one of India’s largest with a $2.9 million 24-hour trading volume, has had $8.14 million in assets frozen for more than a month.
The financial watchdogs accused the exchange of facilitating money laundering “via purchase and transfer of virtual crypto assets.” The ED’s release also stated that 16 fintech companies used WazirX to direct crypto assets to “unknown foreign wallets.”
ED searches the Director of WazirX Crypto-Currency Exchange & freezes its Bank assets worth Rs 64.67 Crore for assisting accused Instant Loan APP Companies in laundering of fraud money via purchase & transfer of virtual crypto assets.
— ED (@dir_ed) August 5, 2022
The financial regulator found during its investigation of the exchange that of the suspected 16 companies allegedly laundering money through WazirX, most accounts had already been blocked between 2020 and 2021.
Today’s news comes amid an “ongoing money laundering investigation into Chinese-owned illegal online betting Applications,” the regulator said back in June. At that time, the ED issued WazirX with a show-cause notice as part of its investigation.
The ED stated that “WazirX clients could transfer ‘valuable’ cryptocurrencies to any person irrespective of its location and nationality without any proper documentation whatsoever,” sparking the investigation and further asset freeze.
WazirX has yet to respond to Decrypt’s request for comment at press time.
Regulator cracks down on WazirX, CoinSwitch
The Indian watchdog has been actively investigating money laundering and other fraudulent crypto activity.
CoinSwitch, another Indian crypto exchange backed by the likes of Coinbase and a16z, was accused of violating forex laws and saw five of its locations under investigation in August.
The exchange’s CEO stated that the inquiry into the exchange was “not about money laundering” but about daily Know Your Customer (KYC) operations and procedures for onboarding new users. At the time of press, no updates have been made.
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