The Enforcement Directorate (ED) said on Wednesday that it has provisionally attached Rs 86.65 crore lying in various bank accounts and payment gateway accounts pertaining to NBFCs, namely Kudos Finance and Investments Private Limited, Acemoney (India) Limited, Rhino Finance Private Limited and Pioneer Financial and Management Services Private Limited, and multiple fintech companies associated with the said NBFCs under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The total attachment in this case till date amounts to Rs 158.97 crore. The ED is conducting a money laundering investigation against a number of NBFCs which are in the business of instant personal micro loans.
“It was revealed that various fintech companies backed by Chinese funds have made agreements with these NBFCs for providing instant personal loans of term ranging from seven to 30 days. The fintech companies brought the funds to be lent to the public and signed MoUs with the defunct NBFCs for their lending licence.
“Since the fintech companies were unlikely to get a fresh NBFC licence from the RBI, they devised the MoU route with defunct NBFCs as a via media to do large scale lending activities. It was projected that the NBFCs had hired the fintech companies for customer discovery, but in reality the fintech companies were piggybacking on the licence of the NBFCs and indulging in large-scale lending business,” sais an ED official.
He said the entire decisions regarding fixation of interest rate, processing fee, platform fee etc. were taken by the fintech companies which were operating on instructions from persons based in China and Hong Kong.
The NBFC companies, namely Kudos, Acemoney, Rhino and Pioneer, entered into MoUs with foreign-backed fintech companies to carry out online lending business in India.
An amount of Rs 940,46,39,498 has been considered to be proceeds of crime as the same was gained by way predatory lending activities in violation of RBI guidelines. The ED has identified bank balances of Rs 86.65 crore in 155 bank accounts and the same have been attached under the provisions of PMLA to preserve the proceeds of crime. Further fund trail investigation is going on.
Earlier in this case, a PAO was issued against Kudos Finance and Investments Private Limited and its fintech partners for a value of Rs 72.32 crore.