Investments in the Indian share markets through the foreign portfolio investments (FPIs) route using the ‘proceeds of crime’ from the betting syndicate have been detected and shares and other assets worth Rs 417 crore have been seized by the agency.
Sourabh Chandrakar and his partner Ravi Uppal, originally residents of Bhilai in Chhattisgarh, are the promoters of Mahadev App and operate a well-oiled betting syndicate from their Dubai headquarters.
It was Chandrakar’s own marriage hosted in RAK, UAE‘s sixth largest city, in February this year for which he paid Rs 120 crore to his wedding planner and hired private jets to ferry family members from Nagpur, celebrities to perform at the wedding and sets and decors from Bollywood. All the payments were made in cash using hawala (illegal) channels, the ED has said.
“As per the seized digital evidence, Rs 112 crore was delivered via hawala to an event management company – R-1 Events Pvt Ltd of Yogesh Popat – and hotel bookings costing Rs 42 crore were done by paying in cash in AEDs,” the ED said.
In its money laundering investigation against the Mahadev App betting syndicate, ED has conducted searches at 39 locations across Raipur, Bhopal, Kolkata and Mumbai, including the premises of two OSDs and a political advisor to Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel. The political aides of Baghel are accused of allegedly receiving huge kickbacks for offering protection to the accused. The agency has arrested at least 15 persons in the case.
According to ED: “Mahadev Online Book Betting APP is an umbrella syndicate arranging online platforms for enabling illegal betting websites to enroll new Users, create user IDs and laundering of money through a layered web of benami Bank accounts.”
The details of betting syndicate – with an assistant sub inspector rank officer networking with the top bureaucracy and political masters on behalf of the masterminds in Dubai – came out after searches were conducted on event managers, travel agents and hawala operators handling cash transfers across India and overseas.
While Bhopal-based Rapid Travels of Dheeraj and Vishal Ahuja were responsible for the entire ticketing operations for celebrities and family members flown to Dubai, Kolkata-based Vikas Chhaparia was the main channel for all illegal cash transactions with the help of other close associates of the Mahadev App promoters.
The ED conducted searches at the premises of Chhaparia and his associate Govid Kedia. Their entities, Perfect Plan Investments LLP, Exim General Trading FZCO and Techpro IT Solutions LLC, invested heavily in Indian stock markets too, through the FPI route, the agency claimed.
“Accordingly, cash derivative and other security holdings worth Rs 236 crore in the name of entities beneficially owned by Vikas Chhaparia have been frozen under PMLA. Further, assets worth Rs 160 crore in DEMAT holdings of Kedia have also been frozen,” the ED said.
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