Funds worth about Rs 106 crore kept in various payment gateway merchant IDs and bank accounts have been attached under the anti-money laundering law as part of an ongoing investigation against mobile phone-based loan apps “controlled” by Chinese nationals, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said Wednesday.
The money laundering case was filed by the federal agency after it took cognisance of some Bengaluru (Karnataka) Police FIRs filed against numerous entities who “extorted and harassed” those people who took small amounts of loan through mobile apps (applications). “These Chinese national-controlled entities have indulged in huge money laundering activities through the merchant IDs maintained with various payment gateways like Razorpay, Cashfree, Paytm, PayU, Easebuzz and bank accounts maintained with various banks, thereby generating proceeds of crime.”
“An amount of Rs 106 crore has been attached under the PMLA in merchant IDs and bank accounts,” the ED said. The ED probe found that these entities were incorporated by appointing “dummy” directors on behalf of Chinese nationals and they used to obtain KYC documents of company staff and appoint them as directors of such entities. Even bank accounts were opened in their names, without their knowledge or prior consent, the agency said.
“These entities are involved in illegal/criminal activities by submitting fake addresses in KYC documents and taking assistance from various professionals and other persons.” “They provided instant short-term loans to the public through loan apps and other means and charged high processing fees and exorbitant rates of interest and amounts were subsequently recovered from the public by these companies by way of threatening and causing mental torture to the borrowers of the loans over the phone as well as contacting their family members, relatives and friends asking for the money,” the ED said.