The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has escalated its probe into the Mahadev Book App case, summoning several prominent Bollywood actors and celebrities. This investigation centers on illicit online betting activities associated with the app, entailing allegations of money laundering and financial irregularities.
Summons Issued to Bollywood Actor Ranbir Kapoor
Ranbir Kapoor has been served with a summons by the ED. In response, Kapoor has requested a two-week extension before appearing before the ED. He stands accused of receiving funds from the app’s promoters for endorsing their product within the virtual platform.
Frozen Proceeds of Crime and the Scale of the Case
The ED has, so far, managed to freeze assets valued at Rs 417 crore. However, the agency suspects that the total amount involved could exceed a staggering Rs 5,000 crore. The ED’s attention was initially drawn to the case due to a lavish wedding held in the UAE, with expenses totaling approximately Rs 200 crore, all paid in cash.
More Celebrities Under ED’s Scanner
Reports indicate that around 14-15 other celebrities, actors, and singers are under the ED’s scrutiny. They are suspected of receiving payments for participating in or performing at a wedding associated with a wanted individual in a money laundering case. These individuals are expected to receive summonses soon.
Digital Evidence Against Celebrities
Substantial digital evidence implicates celebrities such as Neha Kakkar, Vishal Dadlani, Sunny Leone, and Tiger Shroff, who were in attendance at the extravagant wedding. Private jets were hired to transport family members from Nagpur to the UAE. The event also involved the hiring of various professionals, including wedding planners and decorators, with hawala channels used for cash payments.
The Mahadev Betting App and Its Operators
The promoters of the Mahadev app, Sourabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal, operated from Dubai. The app was allegedly used for enrolling new users and facilitating money laundering through Benami bank accounts. The ED contends that these promoters were also involved in managing several similar applications, collectively generating substantial daily profits.
Operations and Franchising of the Mahadev App
Operating from a central head office in the UAE, the Mahadev app franchised “Panel/Branches” to associates on a profit-sharing basis. Hawala operations were used to transfer betting proceeds offshore, while significant cash expenditures in India were made for advertising and self-promotion to attract new users and franchise seekers.
Key Players in Money Laundering Operations
Kolkata-based Vikash Chhaparia played a pivotal role in hawala operations. ED’s searches at Chhaparia’s premises and associates’ locations resulted in the freezing of assets worth Rs 236.3 crore. Additionally, Rapid Travels, managed by Dheeraj Ahuja and Vishal Ahuja in Bhopal, was responsible for ticketing operations, catering to the app’s promoters, their associates, and celebrities endorsing betting websites.
Winding it up
The Mahadev Betting App case continues to unravel, with prominent Bollywood celebrities and key players in the money laundering operations coming under the ED’s scrutiny. The agency’s investigation has unveiled a complex web of financial improprieties, hawala transactions, and substantial sums of frozen assets.