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India agency raids Coda offices in money laundering probe involving Free Fire

BENGALURU (Reuters) -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 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 685.3 million Indian rupees ($8.40 million).

Coda said it was cooperating with the investigation.

"These allegations are without merit and spring from a misunderstanding of Coda's business. Coda's activities in India have been in full compliance with the law," the company said in an emailed statement.

Sea did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

India blocked Free Fire in February as part of a crackdown on 54 apps it said it believed were sending user data to servers in China. Singapore later intervened in the matter, asking Indian authorities why Free Fire was targeted even though Sea has its headquarters in the wealthy city-state, but it remains blocked.

(Reporting by Nishit Navin in Bengaluru and Munsif Vengattil; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Anil D'Silva)