The Enforcement Directorate has frozen Rs 46.96 crore in four bank accounts after raiding 15 locations across Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai and Pune after some companies were allegedly found running illegal online betting apps linked to China. The chartered accountants of these firms were also raided, the ED said in a statement.
"Searches were conducted on the registered offices of the companies, their directors and chartered accountants involved in illegally running online betting apps from websites which are hosted from outside India," the ED said.
"During the course of search, ED has identified multiple bank accounts mostly held with HSBC Bank. Analysis of 2 Bank Accounts of Dokypay Technology Pvt Ltd revealed that in the last year, the account has seen collection of Rs 1,268 crore out of which Rs 300 crore came via Paytm payment gateway and around Rs 600 crore was transferred out via Paytm payment gateway," the Enforcement Directorate said.
The ED had launched a probe under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act on First Information Reports (FIRs) filed by the cybercrime division of Hyderabad Police against Dokypay Technology Pvt Ltd, Linkyun Technolgy Pvt Ltd and others.
Three accused have been identified as Yan Hao, 24, manager of Beijing Tomorrow Power Company; Dhiraj Sarkar and Ankit Kapoor.
"During investigation, it is revealed that with the help of some Indian chartered accountants, some Chinese nationals floated multiple Indian companies. Initially, dummy Indian directors were used to incorporate the companies and, after some time, Chinese nationals travelled to India and took directorship in these companies," the ED said in the statement.
"Some locals were hired and used to open bank accounts with HSBC Bank and open trade accounts with online wallets, namely Paytm, Cashfree, Razorpay, etc. These online wallets had lax due diligence mechanisms and their non-reporting of suspicious transactions to the regulatory authorities helped the accused companies to launch pan-India operations," the Enforcement Directorate said in the statement.
"Once bank accounts were opened, internet access credentials were couriered by the Indian employees to China and major payment instructions came from the beneficial owners who were safely ensconced in China. Accused companies floated large number of similar looking websites which were hosted through Cloudfare, USA. These websites attracted gullible persons to become members and to place bets on various online apps, which promised attractive rewards on simple games of chance," the probe agency said.
"Paytm and Cashfree were used to collect money and pay commission to agent members. Hundreds of websites were created to promote online betting under the garb of e-commerce. All websites were not activated daily. Some were activated for placing bets and the information on daily active websites was shared to members using Telegram groups," the ED said.
The case comes amid rising tension between India and China over border issues. India has responded with curbing trade with Chinese firms and allowing more room for domestic firms to grow.