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regular-article-logo Sunday, 14 April 2024

Mahadev app: ED freezes assets worth Rs 580 cr of Dubai-based 'hawala-operator'

The latest raids were launched on Feb 28 at various premises in Calcutta, Gurugram, Delhi, Indore, Mumbai and Raipur

PTI New Delhi Published 01.03.24, 02:14 PM
Representational image.

Representational image. File

The Enforcement Directorate on Friday said it has frozen various security holdings valued at more than Rs 580 crore of a Dubai-based "hawala operator" and seized cash and valuables worth Rs 3.64 crore after fresh raids in the Mahadev app-linked money laundering case.

The latest raids were launched on February 28 at various premises in Kolkata, Gurugram, Delhi, Indore, Mumbai and Raipur.

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The ED has alleged in the past that its probe in the Mahadev online book gaming and betting app has shown involvement of various high-ranking politicians and bureaucrats from Chhattisgarh, the state where the two main promoters of the app hail from.

The sources said the agency identified a "hawala operator and major player" in this case Hari Shankar Tibrewal, who hails from Kolkata but currently resides in Dubai, and raided his and his associates premises.

It alleged that Tibrewal partnered with the promoters of the Mahadev app and also "owned and operated" an alleged illegal betting app -- skyexchange.

"He (Tibrewal), through his Dubai-based entities, was investing the betting proceeds in the Indian stock market by way of Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI) route. He had also employed many of his associates as directors in various companies which were involved in layering of the betting proceeds by investing them in the stock market," the ED alleged.

It said Tibrewal was also involved in "large-scale" hawala movement of the betting funds.

Hence, the ED said, security holdings worth Rs 580.78 crore "beneficially owned" by Tibrewal have been frozen under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Cash worth Rs 1.86 crore and valuables worth Rs 1.78 crore were recovered by the agency during these searches, the agency said.

So far, the ED has arrested nine people in this case.

The agency had earlier said that the alleged illegal funds generated by the Mahadev app were used to pay bribes to politicians and bureaucrats in Chhattisgarh, from where the main promoters and operatives of the app hail.

The ED has filed two charge sheets in this case till now, including against the two main promoters of the alleged illegal betting and gaming app Sourabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal. It had conducted multiple raids in the case earlier.

"Operations of Mahadev Online Book are being run from Dubai and it operates by franchising panel/branches to their known associates on 70-30 per cent profit ratio."

"The main promoters of MOB are also partners/promoters in multiple such online betting books like Reddy Anna, Fairplay etc. and large-scale hawala operations are done to siphon off the proceeds of betting proceeds to off-shore accounts," the agency said.

The projected proceeds of crime in this case are about Rs 6,000 crore, according to the ED.

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