India freezes assets of Binance-owned local unit WazirX

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MUMBAI, Aug 5 (Reuters) – India’s financial crime-fighting agency said on Friday that it has frozen the assets of WazirX, owned by the world’s largest digital currency exchange Binance, as part of its investigation into suspected violation of foreign exchange regulations.

The federal Enforcement Directorate (ED) said that it froze assets worth 646.70 million rupees ($8.16 million).

WazirX did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

The agency said its action related to the investigation into the crypto exchange’s suspected role in assisting instant loan app companies in laundering the proceeds of crime by converting it into cryptocurrencies on its platform.

The ED launched its investigation last year into WazirX – owned since 2019 by Binance, for suspected violation of foreign exchange regulations.

In 2021, ED was looking into a money laundering case which involved Chinese-owned illegal online betting applications. During the course of the investigation it was found that the laundered proceeds of crime worth approximately 570 million rupees had been converted into cryptocurrencies using the Binance platform, the ED had said. 

($1 = 79.2040 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Nupur Anand; Editing by Louise Heavens)

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