Mahadev app: 17 raids, ED freeze on Rs 100cr shares | Mumbai News – Times of India | IIT EXPERT

MUMBAI: Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday froze demat accounts containing shares worth Rs 100 crore in a money laundering case related to Mahadev gaming app and seized around Rs 2 crore in cash in raids at 17 premises.
The raids were carried out in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata, and in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. ED raids focused mainly on associates of a key person from Mahadev group based in Dubai who managed the gaming-betting business from there along with group promoters Saurabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal. ED sources declined to provide further details about this partner as the raids continued late on Wednesday.
Sources said the Dubai-based partner routed around Rs 800 crore overseas from India generated through online gaming-betting apps, through the hawala channel. The money was then deposited into accounts of controlled entities based in tax haven countries. Subsequently, it was brought back into the country through foreign direct investment (FDI) and foreign portfolio investment (FPI) and invested in stocks. Additionally, Rs 200 crore in cash, generated through the apps, was allegedly converted into legitimate money through shell companies with the assistance of hawala operators based in Kolkata. The money along with the FDI was used to acquire properties and other assets in India.
The sources said the partner operated his own parallel online gaming-betting apps under different names.
ED is investigating the laundering case filed based on several FIRs against Mahadev group in different states. It has initiated extradition proceedings against Chandrakar and Uppal, who are currently in Dubai. Prior to Wednesday’s action, ED had already seized and frozen properties collectively worth Rs 572 crore in the case and arrested nine individuals.
Mahadev group would set up online platforms for illegal betting websites and launder money through a complex network of benami bank accounts. ED suspects Mahadev group promoters have amassed more than Rs 5,000 crore through their illegal gaming-betting operations.
Mahadev Online Book operates multiple websites and runs numerous groups on instant messaging apps, utilising individuals known as ‘panel owners’. These participants then promote the contact number of Mahadev Book on websites through celebrities, thereby attracting more people to join. Once they click on the advertisement, participants are instructed to contact specific WhatsApp numbers. They are provided with two separate numbers-one for depositing money and the other for collecting points in user IDs for playing games and placing bets. ED officials said Mahadev Online Book apps operated illegally in India and falsely presented their betting app as a game of skill while it is, in fact, gambling.

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