Binance Distances Itself From India’s Crypto Exchange WazirX

Binance CEO’s comments follow an investigation by India’s financial crimes regulator, accusing WazirX of evading authority oversight


Gateway of India, Mumbai; Source: Shutterstock


key takeaways

  • Binance chief Changpeng Zhao said his firm never completed a transaction to acquire major Indian exchange WazirX in 2019
  • WazirX’s co-founder Nischal Shetty has disputed those claims and said Binance operates crypto-to-crypto pairs and processes digital asset withdrawals

Binance CEO Changpang Zhao said Friday his firm never finalized a deal to acquire Indian crypto exchange WazirX, days after the platform was accused of evading oversight by local agencies.

In a tweet thread, Zhao said the November 2019 deal “was never completed” and Binance only provides “wallet services for WazirX as a tech solution.”

“Binance has never — at any point — owned any shares of Zanmai Labs, the entity operating WazirX,” Zhao wrote. “WazirX is responsible [for] all other aspects of the WazirX exchange, including user sign-up, [know-your-customer solutions], trading and initiating withdrawals.”

That’s despite the deal, at the time, having been made public by both Binance and WazirX, which purported to allow users to buy and sell crypto with Indian rupees (INR) via the Binance Fiat Gateway.

WazirX’s co-founder Nischal Shetty has disputed Zhao’s claims, in what’s now a tit-for-tat online feud between the exchange execs.

“WazirX was acquired by Binance,” Shetty tweeted, less than two hours after Zhao had publicly distanced Binance from the exchange. “Binance operates crypto to crypto pairs, processes crypto withdrawal[s].”

Binance and WazirX ties examined by Indian regulators

WazirX has drawn the ire of the Directorate of Enforcement (ED), the country’s financial watchdog, over allegations Zanmai Labs facilitated money laundering on the exchange.

The exchange touts itself as the country’s “largest” crypto exchange with 31.7 million users, about eight million behind another major Indian exchange, CoinDCX’s, which recorded 40 million overall in March.

Binance, the country’s fourth-largest exchange, garners roughly 27.6 million users, according to Business Insider India.

A recent ED investigation has claimed large amounts of funds were diverted from questionable, non-bank financial institutions and their fintech partners to WazirX, which were then laundered abroad.

Domestic Indian publication Business Standard first reported on the investigation.

Regulators have accused Zanmai Labs of creating a “web of agreements” with social media management tool Crowdfire, also founded by Shetty, alongside Singapore holding company Zettai and Binance’s Cayman Islands entity. This was meant to obscure ownership of WarzirX, according to a statement Friday.

Loading Tweet..

The ED has issued a freeze on Zanmai director Sameer Mhatre’s bank balances worth INR 646,700,000 ($8.1 million) over an alleged failure to cooperate with the agency.

Shetty previously claimed WazirX controls all crypto-crypto and INR-based crypto transactions with only intellectual property and preferential agreement with Binance.

Zanmai Labs now claims it is only involved in INR-based crypto transactions where all other trades are handled by Binance on WarzirX, the agency said in its statement.

WazirX is accused of giving “contradictory and ambiguous” answers to “evade” regulatory oversight from Indian authorities.

“Recent allegations about the operation of WazirX and how the platform is managed by Zanmai Labs are of deep concern to Binance,” Zhao said. “Binance collaborates with law enforcement agencies all around the world. We would be happy to work with ED in any way possible.”

WazirX and a spokesperson for Zhao did not immediately return a request for comment.

Don’t miss the next big story – join our free daily newsletter.


Upcoming Events

Hilton Metropole | 225 Edgware Rd, London

Mon - Wed, March 18 - 20, 2024

Crypto’s premier institutional conference returns to London in March 2024. The DAS: London Experience: Attend expert-led panel discussions and fireside chats Hear the latest developments regarding the crypto and digital asset regulatory environment directly from policymakers and experts.


TUES, OCT. 8, 2024

Guided by the expertise of Blockworks Research Analysts team, this one day event will feature senior leaders, entrepreneurs, and developers from across the crypto industry. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in an immersive experience to explore the latest trends, […]

Salt Lake City, UT

WED - FRI, OCTOBER 9 - 11, 2024

Pack your bags, anon — we’re heading west! Join us in the beautiful Salt Lake City for the third installment of Permissionless. Come for the alpha, stay for the fresh air. Permissionless III promises unforgettable panels, killer networking opportunities, and mountains […]

recent research

Research report cover graphics (1).jpg


Wormhole is a suite of open-source, permissionless protocols used to move assets and queries across blockchains.  Despite being a common misconception, Wormhole is not just a token bridge. Nevertheless, protocols can build token bridges on top of Wormhole by leveraging the cross-chain messaging provided.


Ether is a commodity just up until the point it is not, or, ether is not a commodity just up until the point it is — whichever you prefer


The bull-market conference was filled with good feelings but little clarity on where the crypto industry is headed next


The Friday ruling was issued as a default judgment because Sameer Ramani “appears to have fled the country”


Bitcoin’s previous record high against the Euro was set in September 2021


As bitcoin ETFs grow larger and more liquid, due diligence teams at wirehouses and other investment firms are more likely to clear them, Bitwise researcher says



The TRON DAO team attended ETH Denver, one of the leading events in the blockchain space