The ED filed the chargesheet before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002 court in Raipur on October 20
As many as 14 accused have been charged under sections 44 and 45 of the PMLA, with the agency now focussed on celebs who were allegedly paid via hawala channels to promote the betting app
The proceeds of the crime in the case are estimated to be around INR 6,000 Cr, of which the agency has already provisionally attached INR 41 Cr in the case so far
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed its first chargesheet in connection with the Mahadev online betting case.
Sources told news agency PTI that the agency filed the prosecution complaint (chargesheet) before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Raipur on Friday (October 20).
ED has named 14 persons in the chargesheet, including alleged app promoters Saurabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal, along with other accused Vikas Chhapariya, Chandrabhushan Verma, Satish Chandrakar, Anil Dammani, Sunil Dammani, Vishal Ahuja and Dheeraj Ahuja.
It also names Srijan Associates through Punaram Verma, Shiv Kumar Verma, Punaram Verma Shiv Kumar Verma, Yashoda Verma, and Pawan Nathani in the prosecution complaint.
Agency’s lawyer Saurabh Pandey told CNN-News18 that the 14 accused have been charged under sections 44 and 45 of the PMLA. He added that the probe will now be focussed on Bollywood stars and other influencers who were paid via hawala channels to promote the betting app.
“Ranbir Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor, and Huma Qureshi have been summoned for questioning but they are not cooperating. We are looking at the legal options we have,” Pandey told the news channel.
After the celebs, the investigation is expected to centre around the alleged political links of the promoters of the betting app. Pandey added that there was evidence to suggest that certain cops in the state of Chhattisgarh allegedly colluded with the accused in the scandal. The agency plans to knock at Interpol’s doors to issue a Red Corner Notice against promoters Uppal and Chandrakar.
As per PTI, the proceeds of the crime in the case are estimated to be around INR 6,000 Cr, of which the agency has already provisionally attached INR 41 Cr in the case so far. The PMLA court will now likely take cognisance of the chargesheet during the next scheduled hearing on November 25.
The two promoters have denied any wrongdoing and, in a statement sent to Inc42, said that the ED investigation was focussed on ‘scapegoating’ them rather than revealing the truth. They also claimed that a third person by the name of Subham Soni was the principal architect behind the Mahadev app, who operated the app through an entity based in the tax haven of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
The matter erupted into national headlines after Chandrakar’s allegedly lavish INR 200 Cr wedding caught the attention of ED sleuths. Chandrakar contests the fact and claims that the wedding cost AED 10 Mn (INR 22 Cr).
The grand ceremony saw performances by Bollywood stars such as Vishal Dadlani, Tiger Shroff, Sunny Leone, Neha Kakkar, Nushrratt Bharuccha, and many others. Even members of the Chandrakar family were allegedly flown on private jets from Nagpur to the UAE.
As per the enforcement agency, the Mahadev betting app would first lure users to enrol on its platform through a heavy marketing campaign which employed Bollywood A-listers. Once the users created new IDs and added money to their accounts, the platform would then syphon off and launder the money of onboarded users via a web of Benami bank accounts.
The agency alleges that the duo Chandrakar and Uppal are the masterminds of the alleged scam and operate the platform out of a central head office in the UAE. The platform reportedly operates by franchising its ‘branches/ panels’ to their known associates on a 70:30 profit ratio.