ED said searches were conducted at six premises in Bengaluru, including the three fintech firms.
Funds worth Rs 17 crore kept in “merchant IDs and bank accounts of Chinese persons-controlled entities” have been seized during raids, the agency said.
Elaborating on the modus operandi, ED said forged documents of Indian nationals were used to make them dummy directors leading to generation of “proceeds of crime.”
The “Chinese-controlled entities” were doing their suspected/illegal business through various merchant IDs/accounts held with payment gateways and banks, it further said.
“The entities under investigation were generating proceeds of crime through various merchant IDs/accounts held with payment gateways/banks and they are also not operating from the addresses given on the MCA (ministry of corporate affairs) website/registered address,” the agency said.
At least 18 FIRs have been filed by the Bengaluru Police cyber crime station against numerous entities/persons in connection with their involvement in extortion and harassment of the public who had availed small amounts of loans through mobile apps being run by the accused entities/persons, ED said, based on which it has opened a case of money laundering.
Smartphone-based Chinese instant loan apps have been under the scanner of Indian agencies following several allegations.
Only last month, the Delhi Police busted a network of over 100 such apps and arrested 22 people for allegedly extorting money on the pretext of giving instant loans through their applications. They are accused of data theft and swindling money from loan availers.
Chinese mobile companies including Oppo, Xiaomi and One Plus have also been under the scanner for alleged irregularities, including tax evasion.
About a year back, searches at a Chinese government-controlled telecom vendor ZTE revealed books were cooked to show “huge losses over the years,” whereas the firm had actually been making 30% profit from sales of imported goods.
(With agency inputs)