ED Cracks Down On Mahadev Online Book's Illegal Betting Network; Assets Worth ₹580 Cr Frozen

ED Cracks Down On Mahadev Online Book's Illegal Betting Network; Assets Worth ₹580 Cr Frozen

Further investigation by the ED identified Hari Shankar Tibrewal, a hawala operator residing in Dubai, as a key player associated with the promoters of Mahadev Online Book.

Ashish SinghUpdated: Friday, March 01, 2024, 12:40 PM IST
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ED | Photo: Representative Image

Mumbai: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is currently probing a case involving "Mahadev Online Book," an umbrella syndicate facilitating illegal betting websites by enrolling new users, creating user IDs, and laundering money through a complex network of benami bank accounts.

Recent widespread searches conducted by the ED in Kolkata, Gurugram, Delhi, Indore, Mumbai, and Raipur have yielded significant results, including the recovery of cash amounting to Rs 1.86 crore, valuables worth Rs. 1.78 crore, and the identification/freezing of proceeds of crime worth Rs 580.78 crore. These searches also led to the seizure of numerous incriminating evidences, including digital data and identification of assets.

Key Hawala Operator Identified

Further investigation by the ED identified Hari Shankar Tibrewal, a hawala operator residing in Dubai, as a key player associated with the promoters of Mahadev Online Book. Searches conducted at Tibrewal's premises and those of his associates uncovered his ownership and operation of the illegal betting website "skyexchange." Tibrewal, through his Dubai-based entities, was found to be investing betting proceeds in the Indian stock market via the Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI) route.

Additionally, he employed numerous associates as directors in various companies involved in layering betting proceeds through stock market investments and large-scale hawala transactions. As a result, security holdings worth Rs 580.78 crores in entities beneficially owned by Tibrewal have been frozen by the ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) 2002.

ED's Course Of Investigation

The ED's investigation into the matter was initiated based on FIRs registered by Chhattisgarh Police, with subsequent FIRs filed by Vishakhapatnam Police and other states also being taken into account. It has been revealed that Mahadev Online Book operates from Dubai, franchising "Panel/Branches" to associates on a profit-sharing ratio of 70%-30%.

The main promoters of Mahadev Online Book are also involved in multiple other online betting platforms such as "Reddy Anna" and "Fairplay," facilitating large-scale hawala operations to transfer betting proceeds to offshore accounts.

In earlier developments, movable properties totalling Rs. 572.41 Crore were seized/frozen during searches conducted under the PMLA, 2002. Two Provisional Attachment Orders have been issued, attaching movable and immovable properties valued at Rs. 142.86 Crore. Prosecution complaints have been filed in the case, resulting in the apprehension of nine accused. The total attachment/freezing in the case now stands at Rs 1296.05 crore, with further investigation ongoing.

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