E-nuggets case | ED searches Binance crypto exchange wallet IDs, freezes Bitcoins worth Rs 22.82 crore: Sources

The Enforcement Directorate has searched wallet or user IDs associated with Binance crypto exchange, as part of its ongoing probe related to mobile gaming app E-nuggets, sources told CNBC TV-18 on November 11.

During the search operation, the federal investigation agency froze 150.22 Bitcoins, worth Rs 22.82 crore, the persons familiar with the development said.

The news comes nearly three weeks after the ED had frozen Bitcoins worth Rs 7.12 crore and seized Rs 1.65 crore in cash, as part of the investigation into the E-nuggets case, news agency IANS had reported. The action was taken following a search operation at two premises in Kolkata on October 21.

The ED has registered a money laundering case against E-nuggets and its promoters, based on an FIR which was filed in Kolkata in February 2021.

Aamir Khan, son of businessman Nesar Ahmed Khan, launched the mobile gaming application that was designed to defraud the public, the agency alleged.

“During the initial period, the users were rewarded with a commission and the balance in the wallet could be withdrawn hassle-free.

“This provided initial confidence among users, and they started investing bigger amounts for a greater percentage of commission and a greater number of purchase orders,” it said.

The ED said that after collecting a “handsome amount” from the public, withdrawal from the said app was stopped all of a sudden under one pretext or the other such as system upgradation and investigation by law enforcement agencies.

Later, all data, including profile information, was wiped off the app servers. It was then that the users understood the ploy, the ED said.

Official sources told news agency PTI that the agency is investigating if this app and its operators had links with other “Chinese controlled” apps that had been issuing loans at exorbitant rates to gullible persons. In many cases, the loan takers ended their lives after they were threatened by these loan operators to pay up.