Mahadev App Case: Former CM Bhupesh Baghel Main Beneficiary In ₹5,500 Crore Betting App Case

Mahadev App Case: Former CM Bhupesh Baghel Main Beneficiary In ₹5,500 Crore Betting App Case

Funds were sent to Baghel as 'protection money' to turn a blind eye to illicit betting activities conducted by Mahadev Online Book in Chhattisgarh and to facilitate the expansion of its betting business.

Ashish SinghUpdated: Monday, April 15, 2024, 07:18 AM IST
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Former CM Bhupesh Baghel | FPJ

Mumbai: The First Information Report (FIR) filed by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW), Raipur, in the Mahadev Betting App case has identified Bhupesh Baghel, the former Chief Minister (CM) of Chhattisgarh and Congress Party's Lok Sabha candidate from Rajnandgaon, as the main beneficiary in the alleged Rs 5,500 crore Mahadev betting app case.

The 12-page FIR, annexed with an Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigation report, accessed exclusively by the Free Press Journal, alleges that funds were sent to Baghel as 'protection money' to turn a blind eye to illicit betting activities conducted by Mahadev Online Book in Chhattisgarh and to facilitate the expansion of its betting business.

Furthermore, the ED has accused Baghel's associates, including his Officer on Special Duty (OSD) and political advisor, Vinod Verma, of receiving proceeds from illegal betting activities on a regular basis.

This disclosure is part of a report included in the FIR. Last month, the Raipur EOW filed an FIR against 20 individuals under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery, and also sections of the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act, 2018.

The EOW's concise FIR is annexed with the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) detailed investigation report, which the ED shared on 1st March, outling the roles of politicians and police personnel. The ED has asked the state police to investigate them under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption (Amednment) Act and the IPC for corruption and misuse of office.

According to the FIR, during investigation in the case, the former CM's name was revealed by arrested accused, Asim Das, who was apprehended by the ED with Rs 5.39 crores in cash.

The ED was able to obtain a voice note from Asim Das's mobile phone, which was claimed to have been shared by Shubham Soni, one of the promoters of Mahadev Online Book, clearly indicating that the seized amount was meant for Baghel who was identified as the ex-CM of the state by Das in his statement dated December 3, 2023.

As per the voice note it was also gathered that Soni claimed to have made such payments prior to this incident as well. Soni revealed that so far, Rs 508 crore was allegedly paid to Baghel.

Furthermore, the FIR highlights the involvement of officials who were in direct contact with Baghel, as revealed by arrested accused Chandra Bhushan Verma. According to FIR, Verma, an assistant sub-inspector of the State Intelligence Bureau, has claimed that protection money was being paid to multiple police officials including OSDs to the ex-CM Baghel by the promoters of Mahadev Online Book.

This revelation, coupled with Shubham Soni's claim in his email dated November 2, 2023, strongly corroborates the theory implicating Baghel. It has also been gathered that Soni attested the said reply dated November 2, 2023, from the Indian embassy, along with his identifying documents.

The combined statements of Das, Mahadev app promoter Soni, and Verma, provide a compelling narrative that Baghel is the primary beneficiary of the Mahadev betting funds.

Recently the EOW team recorded the statement of Das, arrested constable Bhim Singh,and Satish Chandrakar in Raipur jail in this case. Baghel was not immediately available for a comment. However in the past, he has alleged that the case against him is politically motivated.

Currently, Baghel is embroiled in a major controversy in Chhattisgarh regarding a liquor scam, with both the ED and the EOW investigating the case, apart from the ongoing investigation into the Mahadev app case.

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