The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has intensified its probe into the Mahadev app case, summoning Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor on October 6. Kapoor is among several high-profile Bollywood celebrities who have come under the ED’s radar in connection with the case.
The ED has requested Kapoor’s presence at their Raipur office on October 6, as officials continue to investigate his involvement in the Mahadev application controversy.
Why Has the ED Summoned Ranbir Kapoor?
According to the ED’s investigation, Kapoor was allegedly paid by the promoters of the Mahadev app for endorsing their gaming platform. This payment is suspected to be linked to proceeds of criminal activities. Kapoor also appeared in advertisements and engaged in social media promotions for the platform. Additionally, he reportedly received money from the app promoters for performing at the wedding of one of the promoters.
What Is the Mahadev App, and Who Are Its Owners?
The Mahadev app is promoted by Sourabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal. The platform allegedly offers online facilities for illegal betting on various live games, including cricket, tennis, badminton, poker, and card games. These operations have reportedly been ongoing for the past four years.
Chandrakar and Uppal, both hailing from Bhilai in Chhattisgarh, are associated with the Mahadev online book betting application, which serves as an umbrella syndicate, facilitating illegal betting websites. The online app recruited new users and allegedly laundered money through a complex network of Benami bank accounts. The games, lotteries, and betting options on the app were purportedly rigged, causing players to consistently lose money while the company profited.
Chandrakar’s company is believed to have generated approximately Rs 5,000 crore through this alleged scam. Furthermore, the owners of the Mahadev online betting app are suspected of having connections in Pakistan, in addition to associations with local businessmen and hawala operations, according to sources within the Enforcement Directorate.
What Does the ED’s Investigation Reveal?
The investigation into 28-year-old Sourabh Chandrakar was prompted by his extravagant Rs 250-crore wedding in the UAE. During this investigation, details of alleged hawala operations and their connections in the UAE and Pakistan came to light.
The ED has consolidated at least seven FIRs filed by victims who lost money in the scam. These FIRs were filed across various locations, including Goa, Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, Ahmedabad, and Chhattisgarh.
Notably, around eight major international hawala operators are under scrutiny for their involvement in money laundering to Middle Eastern countries and Pakistan through a similar portal. Chandrakar and his associates are alleged to have used at least 70 shell companies to launder money to offshore accounts.
Currently, the anti-money laundering agency is exploring options to seek cooperation from international agencies to take legal action against the app owner, who is presently residing in the UAE.
Why Are Bollywood Celebrities Under Scrutiny?
Several Bollywood celebrities who attended or performed at Chandrakar’s wedding earlier this year and the company’s success party in September last year have come under the ED’s scanner. The celebrities reportedly accepted substantial amounts of cash as remuneration for their participation or performances at these events. The money received by these celebrities is considered the proceeds of the alleged criminal activities associated with the Mahadev app. Over a dozen celebrities are seen in videos from these events, according to sources within the ED.
During recent raids in various Indian cities, the ED tracked seven hawala kingpins who were allegedly involved in laundering the money. Each hawala operator was said to have handled over 500 dummy accounts for money laundering.
Modus Operandi of the Mahadev App
The Mahadev app, based in the UAE, operates call centers that route calls through countries such as the Netherlands, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the UAE. When customers contact these call centers, they are instructed to share their details on a WhatsApp number. Subsequently, these details are shared with panel operators in India, primarily in Mumbai and Delhi, and occasionally in smaller cities like Chandigarh and Chhattisgarh.
There are an estimated 4,000-5,000 panel operators who initiate bank transactions with customers through UPI and bank accounts. These panel operators use fake bank accounts for diverting funds. On a daily basis, these operators reportedly generate profits ranging from Rs 150 crore to Rs 200 crore. Every Monday, settlements are made with the Mahadev app.