Mahadev App Scandal: 'Hawala Operator Pumped Betting Proceeds In Stock Market'

Mahadev App Scandal: 'Hawala Operator Pumped Betting Proceeds In Stock Market'

The defence termed the arrests illegal, claiming that the duo was caught earlier, but produced before the court 24 hours later.

Ashish SinghUpdated: Sunday, March 03, 2024, 11:49 PM IST
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A holiday court in Raipur on Sunday remanded Suraj Chokhani and Girish Talreja – alleged key players in the Mahadev betting app case – to one-day judicial custody till today. Sharing its investigation with the court, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said that Hari Shankar Tibrewal, a hawala operator at whose behest Chokhani operated, invested the betting proceeds in the Indian stock market through his Dubai-based entities using the foreign portfolio investment route. Meanwhile, the defence termed the arrests illegal, claiming that the duo was caught earlier, but produced before the court 24 hours later.

ED lawyer Saurabh Pandey said that Chokhani, the Managing Director of Ability Games Ltd Company, was a close associate of Tibrewal. Hence, the agency suspects the former's involvement in routing proceeds of crime amounting to approx Rs423 crore. Chokhani is known to have multiple business interests, including gaming apps. Interestingly, he was reportedly engaged in the sale of corona kits during Covid.

Originally from Kolkata, Tibrewal currently resides in Dubai, said Pandey, adding that he reportedly partnered with the promoters of the Mahadev app and also owned and operated SkyExchange. Chokhani was allegedly handling the illegal betting app in India. The investigation revealed that Chokhani was arranging online platforms to enable the illegal betting website SkyExchange to enroll new users, create user IDs and launder money through a layered web of benami bank accounts. Tibrewal had also appointed many of his associates as directors in various companies involved in layering the betting proceeds by investing them in the stock market.

Suraj Chokhani

Suraj Chokhani |

The second accused, Talreja, a hawala operator from Bhopal, was arrested after a series of his close links were discovered with the app's promoters Saurabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal. He was wanted on charges of conducting illegal transactions worth more than Rs500 crore. According to the ED, Talreja owned and operated an illegal betting app namely Lotus 365, a subsidiary app of the Mahadev betting book. Through Lotus 365, Talreja earned several crores of rupees, which were laundered by establishing several shell companies to route money from India to Dubai.

Girish Talreja

Girish Talreja |

Talreja's arrest, which took place last Friday, follows a series of investigations revealing his 'association' with Shubham Soni and Ratanlal Jain from Bhopal. Notably, substantial transactions worth several crores of rupees have been traced between Soni, Talreja, and fugitive Jain. Talreja was previously arrested in 2019 when the Immigration Department at Mumbai airport apprehended him after finding his 'close link' in an IPL betting case.

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