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The Hindu
The Hindu

ED raids over 15 locations in West Bengal, Mumbai, NCR in Mahadev App case

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on January 28 conducted raids at more than 15 locations across the country as part of its ongoing money laundering investigation into the Mahadev online betting and gaming app case.

The raids are underway in West Bengal, Mumbai and the National Capital Region based on inputs against some suspects linked to the case, sources said.

The move comes almost a month after the federal agency arrested two individuals, Nitin Tibrewal from Kolkata and Amit Agrawal from Raipur. Both accused were arrested in the second week of January.

Earlier, the ED had arrested alleged accused Asim Das, Bheem Singh Yadav, Chandrabhushan Verma, Anil Kumar Agrawal and Sunil Dammani, and Satish Chandrakar. The agency stated that the illicit funds generated by the app were used for bribing politicians and bureaucrats.

In November last year, the ED had also conducted searches against the money laundering networks linked with the alleged Mahadev Book Online Betting App, which led to the recovery of cash of ₹5.39 crore and a bank balance of ₹15.59 crore.

Several celebrities and Bollywood actors have also been summoned by the agency for questioning regarding their connections with the online betting platform and the payment methods involved.

ED has filed two charge sheets in the Mahadev app case, including against the main promoters, Sourabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal. The two promoters were recently detained in Dubai based on an Interpol red notice, and ED is working on their deportation or extradition to India.

The first charge sheet alleges that Mr. Chandrakar spent around ₹200 crore in cash for his wedding in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, in February 2023. The agency claims that private jets were hired to transport Mr. Chandrakar's relatives, and celebrities were paid for performances. The projected proceeds of crime in this case are estimated at ₹6,000 crore.

The agency filed the second charge sheet before a special court in Raipur on January 1 this year. The fresh charge sheet of about 1800 pages specifically named five accused, including alleged cash courier Asim Das, police constable Bheem Singh Yadav, Shubham Soni, a prominent executive linked to the app among others.

Mr. Das and Mr. Yadav were arrested by the agency in November last year, just before the first phase of polling for the Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh.

Mr. Soni, who had claimed to be the owner of the app, earlier issued a video statement and sent an affidavit to the ED claiming to have "proof" about kickbacks paid to politicians and their linked persons for allowing the app to run its illegal businesses without any legal action.

ED previously alleged that Mahadev app promoters paid approximately ₹508 crore to former Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel. These claims, made just before the State Assembly polls, were denied by Mr. Baghel, who labelled them as attempts to malign his image. The Congress party termed it as vendetta politics by the Centre.

Mr. Chandrakar and Mr. Uppal, originally from Bhilai town in Chhattisgarh, are associated with the Mahadev online betting app, which is accused of facilitating illegal betting websites.

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