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The Hindu
The Hindu
Devesh K Pandey

ED freezes ₹580.78-crore assets in Mahadev Online Book app case

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has frozen assets worth ₹580.78 crore in connection with the “Mahadev Online Book” app case, following searches at multiple locations. The total value of attached/frozen assets in the case now stands at ₹1,296.05 crore.  

The fresh round of searches were carried out in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Gurugram (Haryana), Indore (Madhya Pradesh) and Raipur (Chhattisgarh). During the operation, ₹1.86 crore and valuables worth ₹1.78 crore were also found.

According to the agency, one Hari Shankar Tibrewal from Kolkata, who is currently residing in Dubai, is a big “hawala” operator and has partnered with the promoters of Mahadev Online Book. The ED conducted searches on his premises and those of his associates.

“The searches revealed that Hari Shankar Tibrewal owned and operated one of the illegal betting websites viz. skyexchange. He, 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,” it said.

Mr. Tibrewal was also allegedly involved in the largescale hawala movement of betting funds. “Accordingly, security holdings worth ₹580.78 crore in the name of the entities beneficially owned by Hari Shankar Tibrewal have been frozen by the ED,” said the agency.

Earlier in this case, movable properties totalling ₹572.41 crore was seized or frozen, and assets worth ₹142.86 crore attached. Nine accused persons have been arrested so far.

‘Mahadev Online Book’ is allegedly an umbrella syndicate which arranged online platforms for enabling illegal betting websites to enrol new users, create user IDs; and facilitated laundering of money through a layered web of ‘benami’ bank accounts.

The ED investigation under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act is based on the First Information Reports registered by the police in Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, and other States. The agency has found that the syndicate was being run from Dubai and it operated by franchising ‘panels/branches’ to their known associates on 70%-30% profit ratio. 

“The main promoters of Mahadev Online Book are also partner/promoter in multiple such online betting books like ‘Reddy Anna’, ‘Fairplay’ etc. Largescale hawala operations are done to siphon off the proceeds of betting to off-shore accounts,” it said.

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