After seizing assets and cash amounting to more than ₹30 crore, the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) today made fresh recoveries in the gaming app money laundering case. The premier agency has seized cryptocurrency tokens on the crypto exchange WazirX in relation to its ongoing probe into the E-nuggets gaming app case.

The seized crypto assets are WazirX’s utility token WRX and Tether, an Ethereum token pegged to the value of a U.S. dollar. The action was taken under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002. The ED is investigating the role of one Aamir Khan and others in the gaming app case.

During its previous searches, the ED had seized cash and crypto assets worth over ₹30 crore in the case. Around ₹17.32 crore cash was found at the houses of the alleged suspects, while 85.91870554 Bitcoins, equal to $1,67,4,255.7 (around ₹13.56 cr), found on global crypto exchange Binance, were frozen.

The money laundering probe by the ED was initiated on the basis of an FIR filed on February 15, 2021, by Park Street Police Station, Kolkata Police, against Aamir and others. The complaint was initiated by the Federal Bank authorities in the court of the metropolitan magistrate in Calcutta.

As per the ED, Aamir Khan launched the mobile gaming app E-Nuggets, which was designed to defraud people. “...after collecting a handsome amount from the public, all of the sudden, the withdrawal from the said app was stopped,” says the ED, adding that all the data, including profile information, was wiped off from the servers of the said app.

The accused used to transfer the money earned through the gaming app (E-nuggets) by using crypto exchanges. “Amount equivalent to ₹47.64 lakh was found in the wallet of WazirX (crypto exchange) belonging to Aamir Khan and its associates and the same has been frozen under PMLA,” says the ED.

The crypto exchanges have come under the ED radar in the past few months. It is probing at least 10 crypto exchanges, including WazirX and CoinSwitch Kuber, in the case of alleged money laundering worth over₹1,000 crore in India.

The ED had earlier accused Wazir of being involved in alleged “money laundering and facilitating illegal entities” to send money out of India, via the purchase and transfer of crypto assets. However, WazirX, India’s largest crypto exchange, said such “suspicious” accounts flagged by the ED were blocked by it in 2020-21.

In August 2022, the ED seized bank assets worth crores on WazirX. Earlier this month, however, the crypto unicorn said the ED had unfrozen ₹370 crore in its bank accounts. It clarified it has no association with any alleged accused fintech and instant loan app entities being probed by the ED.

The ED earlier said Chinese apps have shut shops in India due to predatory lending practices, which were being implemented in violation of the RBI guidelines and diverted funds out of the country.

Apart from WazirX, as part of its ongoing probe in multiple cases of money laundering and tax evasions, the ED has also conducted searches across the premises of some of the biggest companies like Paytm, Razorpay, and CoinSwitch Kuber, among others.

The ED this month seized funds worth ₹46.67 crore in various bank accounts of payment gateways Easebuzz, Razorpay, Cashfree, and Paytm in relation to its probe into an app-based token named HPZ and related entities.

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