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The Hindu
The Hindu

Mahadev app owner Sourabh Chandrakar detained in Dubai; ED may file fresh charge sheet

Sourabh Chandrakar, one of the promoters of the Mahadev online betting app, has been put under "house detention" in Dubai while Indian probe agencies, including ED, have been "alerted" and are working through diplomatic channels to get him deported, official sources said on December 27.

The Enforcement Directorate may also file a fresh charge sheet in this multi-crore money laundering case soon, they said.

The development comes weeks after Ravi Uppal, another promoter of the betting and gaming app, was detained by local authorities in Dubai on a red notice (RN) issued by Interpol at the behest of the ED.

The sources said Chandrakar's location in Dubai has been intimated to the federal agency and he has been put under "house detention".

Indian agencies are working, through diplomatic channels, to secure the deportation or extradition of the two who are vital to the money laundering and police investigation into the alleged illegal activities of the 'Mahadev Book Online' app that also have political links in Chhattisgarh and elsewhere, the sources said.

The ED is also expected to file a fresh (supplementary) charge sheet in this case against two people arrested by it in November from Chhattisgarh — alleged cash courier Asim Das and police constable Bheem Yadav.

The agency, in its first charge sheet filed before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Raipur, had named Chandrakar and Uppal along with some others.

In this charge sheet, it had quoted the statement of Dilip Chandrakar, the uncle of Sourabh Chandrakar, that before Sourabh went to Dubai in 2019 he ran a juice shop named 'juice factory' along with his brother in Bhillai town of Chhattisgarh.

The ED claimed Sourabh Chandrakar got married at Ras Al Khaimah, UAE in February 2023 and about Rs 200 crore "in cash" were spent for this event in which private jets were hired to ferry his relatives from India to the UAE and celebrities were paid to perform.

Uppal, 43, was detained last week in Dubai.

Both businessmen are being probed by the ED in the money laundering case linked to alleged illegal betting through online apps, apart from investigations by the Chhattisgarh and Mumbai Police Crime Branch.

A red notice was issued against the two by Interpol on the basis of the ED's request that was based on a court-issued non-bailable warrant.

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

The agency had claimed in November, just before the first phase of Chhattisgarh assembly polls, that forensic analysis and statement made by a 'cash courier' Asim Das have led to "startling allegations" that Mahadev betting app promoters have paid about Rs 508 crore to former Chhattisgarh chief minister and senior Congress leader Bhupesh Baghel, adding that these allegations were "subject matter of investigation".

Das had later submitted before the special court in Raipur that he had been framed as part of a conspiracy and he had never delivered cash to politicians.

The ED investigation has shown that the Mahadev Online Book App is run from a central head office in the UAE, officials said. It operates by franchising "Panel/Branches" to their known associates on a 70-30 per cent profit ratio, it had said.

Large-scale hawala operations are done to siphon off the proceeds of betting to off-shore accounts, it had said.

Large expenditure in cash is also being done in India for advertising betting websites to attract new users and franchise (panel) seekers, the ED had said.

The company promoters hail from Bhilai in Chhattisgarh and the Mahadev online book betting application is an umbrella syndicate arranging online platforms for enabling illegal betting websites, it is alleged.

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