ED suspects Mahadev promoter Saurabh Chandrakar used proceeds of crime to hire Bollywood celebs for lavish wedding
Saurabh Chandrakar at his wedding function in RAK, Dubai
- The wedding saw the presence and performances of various film celebrities
- ED conducted multiple raids at 39 locations
- Celebrities spotted at the event include Tiger Shroff, Sunny Leone, Neha Kakkar, etc
The Enforcement Directorate (ED), investigating a money laundering case involving Mahadev online betting app, has revealed that the app’s promoter and accused, Saurabh Chandrakar, had a lavish, Rs 200 crore wedding in Ras Al Khaimah (RAK), UAE, earlier this year.
The wedding saw the presence and performances of various film celebrities, allegedly paid from the proceeds of Chandrakar’s criminal activities. On Thursday, the ED conducted multiple raids at 39 locations in Mumbai, Raipur, Bhopal, and Kolkata, seizing property worth Rs 417 crore. Celebrities spotted at the event include Tiger Shroff, Atif Aslam, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Sunny Leone, Neha Kakkar, Vishal Dadlani, Ali Asgar, Bharti Singh, Bhagyashree and Pulkit.
According to ED’s investigation, Sourabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal, originally from Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, are the main promoters of Mahadev Online Book and operate their business from Dubai. Their company, M/s Mahadev Online Book, operates through franchising ‘Panel/Branches’ to associates on a 70 per cent-30 per cent profit-sharing basis. Large-scale hawala operations transfer betting proceeds to offshore accounts, while significant cash expenditures are made in India for advertising and self-promotion to attract new users and franchise seekers. Earlier, ED conducted searches in Chhattisgarh and arrested four individuals, including the betting syndicate’s chief liaison, responsible for bribing senior government officials to buy their silence.
Rs 18 lakh cash seized from Govind Kedia, an associate of the app’s owners
Further investigation revealed that Chandrakar and Uppal have amassed significant wealth in the UAE, which they flaunt unabashedly. The February wedding in RAK, UAE, cost around Rs 200 crore cash. It involved private jets, celebrity performances and payments made through hawala channels. According to digital evidence gathered by the ED, Rs 112 crore cash was delivered via hawala to an event management company and Rs 42 crore cash was spent on hotel bookings in AEDs (United Arab Emirates Dirham).
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ED also conducted searches at the premises of Yogesh Popat, a suspected hawala operator, resulting in the seizure of R2.37 crore unaccounted cash and evidence related to the receipt of R112 crore hawala money. “Many celebrities were found to endorse these betting entities and perform at their functions in exchange for hefty fees, which were ultimately paid from online betting proceeds,” the ED said in a statement.
Searches were also conducted at M/s Rapid Travels owned by Dheeraj Ahuja and Vishal Ahuja in Bhopal. This entity handled flight ticket operations for Mahadev app promoters, associates, and celebrity endorsers of their website. The illicit cash earned from betting panels was deposited with ticket providers, and the wallet balance was used to book domestic and international tickets. M/s Rapid Travels also facilitated travel arrangements for Mahadev group events in the UAE. Kolkata-based Vikash Chhaparia handled hawala operations for Mahadev Online Book. Searches at his known premises and at those of his associate, Govind Kedia, revealed significant investments in the Indian stock market through entities like M/s Perfect Plan Investments LLP, M/s Exim General Trading FZCO, and M/s Techpro IT Solutions LLC, using the Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI) route. ED has frozen cash derivatives and other security holdings worth R236.3 crore owned by Vikas Chhaparia under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002.
Furthermore, assets worth Rs 160 crore in Kedia’s DEMAT holdings have been frozen by ED under PMLA. Searches at his premises resulted in seizure of Indian currency amounting to R18 lakh and gold and jewellery valued at Rs 13 crore.
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