India's largest edtech startup, Byju's, and its founder Byju Raveendran, are under investigation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the country's crime-fighting agency.
According to the ED, the agency conducted searches at three premises of Byju's and seized various "incriminating" documents and digital data on Saturday. The agency carried out the searches under the provisions of India's anti-money laundering law FEMA.
Although the ED did not provide further details, it has conducted several similar probes into various firms in recent months, including crypto exchanges, phone makers, and news broadcasters.
According to the ED, the investigation was triggered by "various" complaints from private individuals. The agency has summoned Raveendran "several" times as part of the ongoing probe into Byju's, but the founder "remained evasive and never appeared during the investigation."
The investigation has so far revealed that Byju's raised around $3.4 billion in foreign direct investment between 2011 and 2023, remitting about $1.1 billion to foreign entities and labeling $115 million as advertisement and marketing expenses.
The delayed filing of annual financials by Byju's appears to have prompted the investigation. Although Byju's has disclosed the findings to the media earlier, the ED said in a statement on Sunday that "the genuineness of the figures provided by the company is being cross-examined from the banks."
Byju's, which counts BlackRock, Sequoia India, Lightspeed Venture Partners India, and UBS among its backers, has described the agency's searches as a "routine inquiry" and said the startup maintains complete transparency with the authorities.