December 3, 2022
ED Searches Premises, Freezes Accounts of Coda Payments in Free Fire Probe
The Enforcement Directorate on Tuesday said that it had searched the premises of Coda Payments India, the distributor for Free Fire, the popular battle royale game that was banned in India earlier this year. The agency also announced via Twitter that it had frozen Coda's bank account with a balance of Rs. 685.3 million. Garena Free Fire was one of 54 apps that were ba...

India’s financial crime fighting agency on Tuesday searched the premises of Coda Payments India as part of a money laundering probe into the fintech firm and Sea Ltd’s Free Fire.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) said that it had started an investigation into the companies following complaints that the platforms made unauthorised deductions from the accounts of online game users.

Coda enables cross-border payments for games and other digital products, including Garena Free Fire, Teen Patti Gold, and Call of Duty. The ED also froze all Coda’s accounts, which had a total balance of Rs. 685.3 million.

Coda Payments and Sea did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

Earlier this year, Reuters, citing four sources, reported that Singapore had raised concerns with India about its ban of popular gaming app Free Fire, owned by technology group Sea, in the first sign of diplomatic intervention after the move spooked investors.

After the ban, the market value of the New York-listed Southeast Asian firm dropped by $16 billion (roughly Rs. 1,30,400 crore) in a single day, and investors were reportedly worried India could extend it to Sea’s e-commerce app, Shopee, which was recently launched in the country at the time.

The sources, who included two Indian government officials, had stated that Singapore had asked Indian authorities why the app had been targeted in a widening crackdown on Chinese apps, even though Sea has its headquarters in the wealthy city state.

Singapore had queried if the app “was banned unintentionally,” one of the Indian officials aware of the diplomatic initiative had told Reuters.

The concerns, raised with India’s external affairs ministry, were routed to the information technology (IT) department which ordered the ban, the two Indian sources told Reuters at the time.

Garena Free Fire was one of 54 apps that were banned by the government over links to China, as they allegedly posed a threat to the country’s security. The apps that were banned included Garena Free Fire, Tencent’s Xriver, and NetEase’s Onmyoji Arena. So far, the government has blocked nearly 300 apps in the country since border tensions erupted with China in May 2020.

© Thomson Reuters 2022