ED summoned senior Google Executives on probe into app-based Micro-Lending Fraud

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned senior Google executives and requested a detailed list of micro-lending apps operating in India.

The list was requested by the ED as part of its ongoing investigation into instant app-based loan fraud. "Google executives in Hyderabad were summoned today to provide a list of all such mobile apps for verification through the Google Play Store," a source told Business Standard. Notably, the ED's Hyderabad office is investigating 38 non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and over 300 fintech firms. The investigation is being conducted in accordance with anti-money laundering legislation.

According to the ED, these companies are being investigated on suspicion of providing instant micro-financing through mobile apps and soliciting high interest from defaulters. The ED also believes that money worth thousands of crores has been transferred outside of India via these micro-lending apps. The data can be obtained from the Play Store because, even if a legal entity moves from one app to another, Google can still keep track of all the lending apps.This investigation comes at a time when the country's entire startup ecosystem has come under scrutiny due to an apparent widespread lack of due diligence, as evidenced by high-profile cases such as BharatPe, Zepto, Infra.Market, Trell, and Zetwerk seeing financial losses irregularities, boardroom spats, and so on.

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