WazirX responds to govt request, blocks 377 user accounts


India’s leading crypto exchange, WazirX, on Thursday said it had blocked 377 user accounts in response to requests from Indian as well as foreign law enforcement agencies for transactional and user information during April-September 2021.

As many as 38 requests were from foreign law enforcement agencies.

According to the exchange, all 377 requests appeared to be related to criminal proceedings, such as fraud, kidnapping and narcotics-related queries.

Overall, WazirX blocked 14,469 accounts from April to September. However, 90% of these activities were user-driven—customer requests to close accounts—and 10% were initiated by the exchange’s legal team, which had to lock the concerned accounts due to payment disputes or ongoing investigations.

These disclosures are part of the exchange’s first semi-annual transparency report, which gives users a greater understanding of WazirX’s processes, standard terms of use, and privacy policy.

“Initiatives such as the transparency report add credibility to the ecosystem and make the crypto world look more appealing to the outsiders. We aim to look at the bigger goals like positive regulations and consider ourselves paving the way to it through innovative approaches,” said Nischal Shetty, chief executive officer and founder, WazirX, which has over 8.5 million users and has seen trading volumes around $30 billion since January.

Earlier, government agencies such as Enforcement Directorate and the Income Tax department had raised red flags regarding money laundering and non-compliance of various regulations at crypto exchanges.

To facilitate speedy compliance on requests of law enforcement agencies, WazirX has created a dedicated channel for clarity on transactions on its platform.

Additionally, WazirX had earlier collaborated with TRM Labs, a cryptocurrency compliance platform helping out in transaction monitoring and investigation, wallet screening and risk management.

In absence of regulations from the government side, industry body, Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), earlier had set up a board to oversee the implementation of a self-regulatory code of conduct for its members that laid down that all crypto exchange members would voluntarily comply with Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) and know your customer (KYC) and other company and taxation laws.

Notwithstanding legal ambiguity on whether cryptocurrency investment is permitted in India and huge volatility in prices, the country has the highest number of crypto owners in the world at 10.07 crore, according to broker discovery and comparison platform BrokerChooser.

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