Who owns WazirX? Crypto platform says Binance; Chinese co says no

BL Mumbai Bureau | Updated on: Aug 06, 2022
Nischal Shetty, CEO, WazirX

Nischal Shetty, CEO, WazirX | Photo Credit: Srikrishnan P C@Chennai

Even as the investigating agencies are looking into money laundering allegations at WazirX

With the Enforcement Directorate stepping up its investigations into alleged money laundering by WazirX, differences have crept up between the Chinese crypto exchange Binance and the founder of WazirX. While the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Binance said it doesn’t own India-based platform WazirX, the Indian founder Nischal Shetty contested this by saying that Binance had acquired WazirX. 

The statement by Binance has surprised everyone, given that it had in 2019 disclosed the acquisition of WazirX in a blog post.

But Changpeng Zhao, founder and chief executive of Binance, said in a series of tweets that the company has been “trying to conclude the deal for the past few years,” but hasn’t completed the transaction yet, citing “a few issues” that he declined to elaborate.

This is contrary to what Binance had said in 2019. 

“The acquisition of WazirX shows our commitment and dedication to the Indian people and strengthen the blockchain ecosystem in India as well as another step forward in achieving the freedom of money,” the 2019 post cited Zhao as saying.

The differences come as the Indian investigating agencies are looking into money laundering allegations at WazirX. 

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) said on Friday it had frozen bank balances of Rs 64.67 crore belonging to a company that runs a popular cryptocurrency exchange, WazirX, adding that the premises of a director of the company, Zanmai Labs, was searched on Wednesday.

The ED said it had found evidence against the company while investigating non-banking financial companies (NBFC) and their fintech partners indulging in predatory lending practices. After the investigation started, it said, many of these companies shut up shop and diverted funds through the fintechs to buy crypto assets, which were then laundered abroad.

Published on August 06, 2022
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