Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume, said on Friday it does not own India-based platform WazirX, despite disclosing the acquisition two-and-a-half years ago in a move that has confused industry players, including the Indian firm.
Changpeng Zhao, founder and CEO of Binance, said in a series of tweets that the company has been “trying to close the deal for the past several years” but has yet to complete the transaction, citing “several issues,” which he declined to elaborate on.
Binance announced the acquisition of WazirX in late 2019 blog post. The official blog post, which features a photo of Zhao and the founders of WazirX, also shows the Binance CEO’s enthusiasm about the deal.
“The acquisition of WazirX shows our commitment and dedication to the Indian people and strengthening the blockchain ecosystem in India, as well as another step forward in achieving cash freedom,” the 2019 publication quoted him as saying.
WazirX also reported that it was “successfully acquired by Binance” in a separate blog post.
Zhao said on Friday that Binance does not “own any stake in Zanmai Labs,” the entity that runs WazirX and was created by the original founders.
“On November 21, 2019, Binance published a blog post that it had ‘acquired’ WazirX. This transaction was never completed. Binance has never – at any time – owned any shares of Zanmai Labs, the organization that runs WazirX,” he wrote.
“Binance only provides wallet services for WazirX as a technical solution. There is also integration using off-chain tx to save network charges. WazirX is responsible for all other aspects of the WazirX exchange, including user registration, KYC, trading and withdrawal initiation,” he added.
The clarification follows the freezing of over $8 million worth of WazirX assets by India’s Enforcement Directorate, citing alleged violation of foreign exchange rule.
“The recent allegations regarding the operation of WazirX and how the platform is managed by Zanmai Labs are of deep concern to Binance. Binance cooperates with law enforcement agencies worldwide. We will be happy to work with ED in any way possible,” Zhao added.
India’s anti-money laundering agency said in its Friday order that Binance rarely responds to queries sent to its official legal compliance email address.
WazirX is India’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume. Its annual trading volume exceeded $43 billion in 2021, representing “1,735% growth over 2020,” the company said late last year. The platform is also providing its technology to several other Indian exchanges.
Updated at 22.58 IST: Nischal Shetty, co-founder of WazirX, disputed Zhao’s claims, claiming that Binance had indeed acquired WazirX. In a series of tweets, he said: