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Mahadev Betting App Scam: Follows Hawala Money Trail from Dubai to Chhattisgarh –


From owners Saurabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal in Dubai to hawala operators Sunil Damani and Anil Damani in Chhattisgarh’s Raipur to Assistant Sub-Inspector Chandrabhushan Verma and finally to bureaucrats and politicians – this was the alleged flow of money in the Mahadev betting app scam according to the Enforcement Directorate documents accessed by .


The case that started with a lavish Rs 250-crore wedding in Dubai has turned into a scandal with several Bollywood actors and celebrities receiving summons from the ED in the money laundering probe. The latest to be summoned are comedian Kapil Sharma and actors Huma Qureshi and Hina Khan. The most high-profile actor to be summoned for questioning is Ranbir Kapoor, who has reportedly sought two weeks’ time to appear.

Sources in the ED told that nearly 15 actors and celebrities are under the scanner for either attending the decadent wedding of Mahadev app promoter Saurabh Chandrakar in Dubai this February or for discreetly promoting the betting app and products linked to it. The ED suspects that the payment these celebrities received in exchange for promoting the app were in cash. The agency, thus, wants to ascertain the mode of payment and find out if these were proceeds of the alleged money laundering operations.

The Mahadev betting app had different games, lotteries and betting options for everything under the sun, including the prediction of election results, weather, matches etc. These have been operational for the past four years. The online app, like other Ponzi schemes, targeted the lower income group. The games, the lotteries and betting options were all rigged where the ‘players’ always lost money and the company gained.

For the past few months, multiple complaints have been submitted to law enforcement agencies against such betting applications. Many of these have highlighted the close proximity between Bollywood actors and celebrities with the promoters of the apps.

Videos of celebrities at Saurabh Chandrakar’s over-the-top wedding in Dubai have since gone viral. According to ED sources, the event management company that organised the wedding was paid a whopping Rs 142 crore, which included the cost of private jets. The hotel accommodation reportedly came up to Rs 42 crore. The ED has frozen assets worth Rs 417 crore in the case following searches at 39 locations.

has accessed remand notes of the ED as well as FIRs lodged with police across states. The agency suspects that proceeds of large-scale hawala operations are being siphoned off to offshore accounts.

HOW THE MAHADEV BETTING SCAM WORKED

The Mahadev app was allegedly using the online book betting application to enrol new users, create IDs and launder money through a layered web of benami bank accounts.

As per documents accessed by , the ED investigation has shown that the Mahadev Online Book App is run from a central head office in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and operated by franchising “panel/branches” to their known associates on an 80-20 profit ratio. These branches ran call centres and employed a large number of young people, who were also allegedly used for the KYC of shell accounts.

A huge expenditure in cash has also been incurred in India for advertising of betting websites to attract new users and franchise (panel) seekers, the documents show.

According to the agency, the Mahadev betting app invited ‘players’ to play poker and card games, games that depend on probability and chance, and invited bids on sports like cricket, badminton, tennis etc. The games were allegedly designed in a way to only benefit the franchises or to hook players with initial gains that soon gave way to massive losses.

“Mahadev Book maintains various websites and operates a number of closed groups on chat apps. They provide a contact number over the website. This number can only be contacted over WhatsApp. Once a user contacts this number, he will be provided two separate contact numbers. One contact number is to be contacted for depositing money and collecting points in IDs used to make bets. The second number is for contacting the website to encash the accumulated points in the designated IDs,” a document accessed by said.

“The IDs are generally created on multiple websites like laser247.com, laserbook247.com, betbhai.com, betbook247.com, tigerexch247.com, cricketbet9.com etc depending on the need and preference of ‘betters’…. All the games are rigged in a manner that overall the panel (franchise) owners will not lose money and despite initial profits to the user, ultimately, they are likely to lose money,” it added.

While Saurabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal, who belong to Chhattisgarh, allegedly sent the hawala money from Dubai, Sunil Damani and his brother Anil Damani arranged its distribution in India to bribe politicians, bureaucrats and policemen. Chhattisgarh Police ASI Chandrabhushan Verma allegedly handled the final delivery to politicians and officials.

“Sunil Damani, as per his own admission, had been getting commission of Rs 100 per lakh of the hawala cash funds moved by him. As per the ED investigation, around Rs 60-65 crore worth of proceeds of the crime have been moved by him and his brother on behalf of Ravi Uppal in the last 2-3 years,” the document said.

The ED has also alleged that ASI Chandrabhushan Verma, who has also allegedly confessed to his role, helped Ravi Uppal get access to the Chhattisgarh chief minister’s office via Vinod Verma, the political advisor to the CM. Raids have also been carried out at the residence of Verma, who has accused the ED of building a case against him based on “fictional” details and called the raids “dacoity”.



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