India’s Enforcement Directorate is investigating “several” crypto cases for money-laundering schemes and has seized $115.5 million to date in such crimes, the Ministry of Finance said, the latest in a series of crackdown by the authorities on the nascent space that is already reeling from the tremulous market conditions.
The Indian crime fighting agency has also arrested five individuals in crimes abetted by cryptocurrency and in the past sent a show cause notice to local exchange WazirX and its directors for crypto transactions exceeding $338 million, the ministry said.
The disclosure comes at a time when India is pushing ahead with rules to better scrutinize the activities of cryptocurrency firms, even as until now New Delhi has resisted formulating a blanket law to regulate the virtual digital assets.
Last week, the Ministry of Finance said (PDF) that crypto will be governed by anti-money laundering rules in the South Asian market. Under the new change, crypto exchanges, NFT providers and custody wallet operators will be responsible for monitoring suspicious financial activities.
Firms operating in the crypto space will be required to perform know your customer verifications. “Exchanges and wallet providers will be required to implement AML/CFT controls, and to be licensed or registered and supervised or monitored by national authorities,” the Ministry of Finance said this week.
India, in its ongoing G20 presidency, has also said that it will priortize the development of a framework for global regulation of unbacked crypto assets, stablecoins and decentralized finance.
Last year, New Delhi took a stringent approach with cryptocurrencies by levying a 30% tax on all gains and a 1% deduction on each crypto transaction. The nation’s move, alongside the market downturn, has severely depleted the transactions that local exchanges CoinSwitch Kuber, backed by Sequoia India and Andreessen Horowitz, and CoinDCX, backed by Pantera, process in the nation.
Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, founder and chief executive of the world’s largest crypto exchange Binance, told TechCrunch last year that the firm doesn’t see India as a “very crypto-friendly environment.” He said the firm is attempting to relay its concerns to the local authority about the local taxation, but asserted that tax policies typically take a long time to change.