A war of words between Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao and WazirX founder Nischal Shetty over who owns the Indian crypto exchange entered a second day on Saturday, with Zhao accusing Shetty of “deception.”
After Indian authorities froze WazirX funds worth 647 million rupees ($8 million) on Friday and accused it of facilitating money laundering, Binance distanced itself from the Indian firm — despite having announced its acquisition as long ago as 2019.
The two sides entered the weekend trading barbs over a deal that onlookers had assumed was wrapped up years ago. In dispute is who owns WazirX’s shares, who controls its day-to-day operations and who has access to WazirX’s web domain and the code stored in its Amazon Web Services (AWS) account.
“People playing deception wording games,” Zhao wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “We can shut down the domain. It just hurts users. We do not have control of the trading system. You just gave the AWS login, no source code, no deployment capability. You also retained access to the AWS account, source code, deploy, etc.”
Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume, announced the purchase of WazirX in a November 2019 blog post. The company amended that post on Friday to “clarify that the 2019 ‘acquisition’ described in this blog was limited to an agreement to purchase certain assets and intellectual property of WazirX.”
Binance said WazirX continues to be operated and managed by Zanmai Labs, an Indian entity owned by Shetty and others.
Shetty, for his part, said Binance granted Zanmai a license to operate WazirX’s fiat-to-crypto trades, while Binance operated the crypto-to-crypto trading.
Money laundering accusations
Both Shetty and Zhao are distancing themselves from WazirX after India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED), a law enforcement agency that investigates financial crimes, froze some of its funds and accused the company of laundering money linked to Chinese loan apps that were involved in digital lending in India.
WazirX said on Twitter that it disputes ED’s allegations and is considering what steps to take next.
“We have been fully cooperating with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for several days and have responded to all their queries fully and transparently,” the Indian exchange said.
Meanwhile, Zhao warned the Indian exchange’s clients that Binance had the ability to disable WazirX wallets — although he said it won’t because it would hurt users. He advised them to move funds to Binance.
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