Fairplay Betting App Case: ED Raids 19 Locations In Mumbai And Pune As Probe Intensifies

Fairplay Betting App Case: ED Raids 19 Locations In Mumbai And Pune As Probe Intensifies

According to sources, the ED is set to summon prominent Bollywood figures who actively endorsed the Fairplay betting app and allegedly received substantial funds.

Ashish SinghUpdated: Friday, June 14, 2024, 07:58 AM IST
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The Mumbai Zonal Unit of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) conducted search operations on Wednesday (June 12) at 19 locations in Mumbai and Pune as part of the ongoing probe into the case of “Fairplay,” a subsidiary app of the Mahadev Betting app. The app was allegedly involved in illegal broadcasting of cricket including IPL matches, and various online betting activities.

As part of the searches that commenced on Wednesday, a search operation was conducted on a Mumbai-based event management company involved in signing Bollywood celebrities for the promotion and endorsement of the betting app Fairplay. Additionally, a pharmaceutical company under scrutiny was found to be generating bogus billing to launder betting money into offshore accounts via fictitious bank accounts.  

During the search operations, ED seized the various movable assets including cash, bank funds, demat account holdings and luxury watches to the tune of Rs. 8 crore (approx.)  and various other incriminating documents & digital devices. 

According to sources, the ED is set to summon prominent Bollywood figures who actively endorsed the Fairplay betting app and allegedly received substantial funds. 

According to ED officials, during the investigation, it was revealed that the Fairplay betting app was involved in accepting bets on the outcome of the Lok Sabha Elections 2024. Currently, the ED is investigating the shell companies that collected funds through various bogus and shell bank accounts, constituting the betting money on the Lok Sabha Elections 2024 results. These funds were then layered through a complex web of bank accounts belonging to shell entities and subsequently siphoned off to overseas shell entities.

According to officials, Since the entire operation is managed from offshore, the probe is the unveil the people behind the illicit business.

The ED initiated an investigation based on the FIR registered by the Nodal Cyber Police, Mumbai, following a complaint from M/s. Viacom18 Media Pvt. Limited. The complaint alleged that Fairplay illegally broadcasted cricket tournaments like the Indian Premier League (IPL), resulting in a revenue loss of more than ₹100 crore. The FIR was registered under various sections of the IPC, Information Technology Act 2000, and the Copyright Act, 1957.

The ED investigation revealed that Fairplay entered into agreements through foreign-based entities in Dubai and Curacao with Indian agencies representing celebrities. It was found that no due diligence was performed by Indian agencies regarding Fairplay before executing the agreements for its promotion. According to the statement provided to the ED, the Viacom 18 group possessed exclusive rights to broadcast IPL matches in 2023.

However, the online betting app Fairplay allegedly displayed hoardings across Mumbai, broadcasting live telecasts of IPL 2023 without obtaining permission from Viacom18. Furthermore, the app was accused of accepting bets on the matches being played.

Further investigation revealed that Fairplay collected funds through various bogus and shell bank accounts which in turn were layered through complex web of bank accounts of shell entities and were then accumulated in Pharma companies involved in bogus billing. Investigation further revealed that funds from these companies have been siphoned off to overseas shell entities based out of 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 trailing and utilization of funds collected from the public by Fairplay.

Fairplay, an alleged subsidiary app of the Mahadev app, gained attention due to endorsements by many Bollywood personalities. According to sources, more than 40 Bollywood celebrities are under scrutiny for promoting Fair play during the IPL 2023.  

Maharashtra Cyber Cell recorded statements of managers of actors Sanjay Dutt, Jacqueline Fernandez, and rapper Badshah. The Bollywood actress Tamannaah Bhatia had also been summoned for a statement by Maharashtra cyber cell.

In the ongoing investigation of the Mahadev betting app case, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has issued summons to Ranbir Kapoor, Shradhha Kapoor and several celebrities and film personalities for their promotional activities for the illegal betting app Fairplay.

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