Fairplay probe: ED conducts searches in Mumbai and Pune

14 June,2024 01:28 PM IST |  Mumbai  |  Faizan Khan

According to ED, during the search operations, movable assets including cash, bank funds, demat account holdings, and luxury watches worth approximately R8 crore were seized

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As a part of the ongoing investigations into Fairplay, an online betting exchange platform, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Mumbai zonal office, conducted search operations at 19 locations in Mumbai and Pune on Wednesday. The ED is pursuing investigations against Fairplay, which is a subsidiary application of Mahadev online gaming app, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002. It has been alleged that Fairplay had illegally streamed some of the IPL matches in the recently concluded season. Investigations are also being conducted into the alleged involvement of the platform in online betting on sports and major events including the recent Lok Sabha polls.

According to ED, during the search operations, movable assets including cash, bank funds, demat account holdings, and luxury watches worth approximately R8 crore were seized. "Various incriminating documents and digital devices were also recovered (during the search) and being further examined," officials said.

The ED undertook investigations after an FIR was registered by Maharashtra cyber cell, based on the information given by Viacom18 Media Pvt Limited against Fairplay for illegal streaming of IPL matches. The FIR was lodged under various sections of the IPC, 1860, the Information Technology Act, 2000, and the Copyright Act, 1957 against Fairplay Sport LLC and others for causing a revenue loss exceeding Rs 100 crore (proceeds of crime).

The ED's investigation revealed that Fairplay made agreements through foreign-based entities in Dubai and Curacao with Indian agencies representing celebrities. It was found that Indian agencies did not perform due diligence regarding Fairplay before executing promotional agreements.

Investigations revealed that Fairplay collected funds through various bogus or shell bank accounts, which were layered through a complex web of bank accounts of shell entities and then accumulated in pharma companies involved in bogus billing. "Funds from these companies were siphoned off to overseas shell entities based in Hong Kong SAR, China, and Dubai. More than 400 bank accounts of shell entities were found to be used for these purposes, which are under examination along with the trailing and utilization of funds collected from the public by Fairplay," an ED official said.

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