ED tightens grip on crypto assets, freezes Rs 90 Crore in Binance, ZebPay, and WazirX


PTI, Apr 30, 2024, 6:28 PM IST

The Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday said it has taken possession of funds worth Rs 90 crore, kept in cryptocurrency wallets of exchanges like Binance, ZebPay and WazirX, as part of a money laundering investigation linked to an online gaming app ”scam”.

”These crypto assets were subsequently taken into possession and transferred into the crypto wallet of the ED,” the federal agency said in a statement.
The investigation pertains to an online gaming scam app ”scam” called ‘E-Nugget’ that masqueraded as a gaming platform and ”promised” users high returns on their investments.

An FIR filed at the Park Street Police Station of Kolkata became the basis of the ED case that was registered under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The app offered a series of enticing games designed for real-money wagering promised users hefty commissions and painted a picture of a ”golden investment” opportunity, the ED said.

However, this facade quickly fell apart once investments were made with the app going dark and leaving investors stranded without a way to reclaim their funds, it said.

The ED said it exposed the alleged illegal activities of the app in 2022 and found that a part of the ill-gotten gains was invested in digital assets.
About 2,500 mule or dummy bank accounts were identified, it said.

The agency said it sought details of crypto wallets involved in this case and held with cryptocurrency exchanges like Binance, ZebPay and WazirX.

”Information gathered from Binance and other exchanges led to the freezing of funds totalling nearly Rs 90 crore available in 70 accounts, maintained with Binance, ZebPay and WazirX holding funds, which were linked to the scam,” it said.

The agency had arrested two people — ”mastermind” Aamir Khan and Romen Agarwal and also has filed a charge sheet in the case.

It has seized, attached or frozen a total of Rs 163 crore worth of assets in this case that comprises cash, cryptocurrencies, bank account balances, and some offices.

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