Mahadev Betting App Case: ED Probe Uncovers Cartel's Stock Market Laundering

Mahadev Betting App Case: ED Probe Uncovers Cartel's Stock Market Laundering

The betting cartel of Mahadev Betting app generated approximately Rs 22 crore weekly from Sky Exchange. The betting proceeds were funneled into the Indian stock markets through shell companies controlled by Tibrewal and Chokhani.

Ashish SinghUpdated: Wednesday, May 08, 2024, 09:07 AM IST
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Suraj Chokhani (L), Hari Shankar Tibrewal (R) |

Mumbai: The Enforcement Directorate's (ED) investigation into Mahadev illegal betting cartel has revealed that the absconding accused Hari Shankar Tibrewal, along with his arrested associate Suraj Chokhani, allegedly diverted a staggering Rs 423 crore to stock portfolios.

Additionally, foreign entities also invested in India via the foreign portfolio investment (FPI) route, holding securities worth Rs 606 crore (earned by betting on Sky Exchange app) in stock portfolios. The money was allegedly routed through shell companies.

The ED prosecution complaint revealed that Hari Shankar Tibrewal, a partner in the Mahadev betting cartel, generated around ₹22 crore weekly from Sky Exchange. Much of this money was funneled into Indian stock markets via shell companies controlled by Tibrewal and Chokhani.

ED prosecution complaint(PC), said that Chokhani was found to have converted betting cash into bank entries of shell companies through professional operators. Accused Amit Saraogi, through his company M/s Pearl Dealers Pvt Ltd, facilitated the process by providing bogus bank entries against betting cash arranged in bank accounts of accused companies, which were further utilized to invest in the share market.

According to ED prosecution complaint(PC)  Saraogi set up many shell companies to provide bogus bank entries against cash. In his statement, Saraogi revealed that he had provided bank entries amounting to Rs. 350 crore against betting cash to the companies of Chokhani and Tibrewal. He was involved in the money laundering operations of Sky Exchange and received a 1.25% commission for it.

Girirsh_Talreja

Girirsh_Talreja |

The prosecution complaint highlighted Amit Saraogi's pivotal role in the umbrella cartel of the Mahadev app. Saraogi converted cash from Tibrewal's betting app Sky Exchange into bank entries and orchestrated a plan to invest in the stock market. Several shell companies under Saraogi's control were formed for bogus entries.

Amit Saraogi

Amit Saraogi |


Dummy directors of shell companies, Sanjoy Sarkar, Bipplub Guha, Suraj Rajak, and Amit Nath, revealed in their statement that they were paid Rs 1500 to Rs 3000 per month as dummy directors of his several shell companies, for sign documents, and opening bank accounts for bogus entries. Saraogi formed 40 to 50 bogus shell companies for this purpose.

Shell Companies Used To Transfer Betting Money

ED's investigation revealed that Sarogi's shell companies transferred the betting money to the shell companies of the accused Hari Shankar Tibrewal and Chokhani by showing them as business transactions, which were later used for investment in the stock market.

Prashant Bangri, another accused and associate of absconding accused Tibrewal, revealed that he looks after the stock portfolio account of Tibrewal and analyzed share-holding patterns of companies. Tibrewal then used Bangri's analysis to buy shares of these companies through his Dubai-based companies.

The ED's investigation into the Skyexchange illegal betting operations, linked to the Mahadev Online Book cartel, revealed proceeds of crime totaling approximately Rs 3,916 crore between September 2020 and February 2024. Another linked entity, Lotus365.com, was found to be making around Rs 100 crore in cash every two months. The agency estimated the tentative proceeds of crime to be around Rs 2,400 crore over a 48-month period.

During the investigation, ED discovered that Tibrewal had laundered the proceeds of crime from Sky Exchange through multiple entities under the guise of share investments. These entities include Zenith Multi Trading DMCC, ECotek General Trading LLC, Plus Commodities DMCC, and Caterfield Global DMCC. The operations of Indian companies were managed by Suraj Chokhani.

Companies Involved In Laundering Operations

The companies involved in the laundering operations include M/s Ability Games Private Limited, M/s Ability Smarttech Private Limited, M/s Ability Ventures Private Limited, M/s Brilliant Investment Consultants Private Limited, M/s Discovery Buildcon Private Limited, M/s Forest Vincom Private Limited, M/s Swarnabhoomi Vanijya Private Limited, and M/s Dream Achievers Consultancy Private Limited. 

During the investigation, it was revealed that Chokhani's accused firm, Ability Games Ltd, entered into a share purchase agreement with Delta Corp, a listed company engaged in the casino gaming industry in India, to sell its Nepal-based casino business. In his statement to the ED, Manoj Jain, CEO of Delta Corp Ltd, elaborated on the deal with Ability Games. Delta Corp intended to sell 100% of its casino business in Nepal, which was invested through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Caravella Entertainment. Ability Games was supposed to buy 65% of Caravella Entertainment's shares, while the remaining 35% were to be bought by Ashtek Consultancy, promoted by Ajit Mittal.

ED also found that Girish Talreja, another accused and promoter of the Lotus365 betting app, was also a part of the Mahadev betting app cartel and played an active role in laundering proceeds of crime generated from the illegal operations of Lotus365. Assets worth Rs 15.41 crore were acquired by him in his name and his wife's name in India using the foreign inward remittance route. He also acquired property in Dubai as a part of these activities.

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