ED likely to seek fugitive tag for Mahadev app promoters | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

ED likely to seek fugitive tag for Mahadev app promoters

ByNeeraj Chauhan
Jun 10, 2024 01:29 PM IST

Once declared a fugitive economic offender (FEO), they will join the list after Nirav Modi Vijay Mallya, Iqbal Mirchi’s wife Hajra Memon among others

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is likely to soon move court with a request to declare Mahadev Online Book app promoters Sourabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal as fugitive economic offenders (FEO) and initiate proceedings to confiscate their properties abroad, officials aware of the details have said.

ED is also likely to initiate proceedings to confiscate their properties abroad.
ED is also likely to initiate proceedings to confiscate their properties abroad.

Both Chandrakar (28) and Uppar (43), accused of setting up the online betting syndicate that generated illegal funds worth 6,000 crore since 2019-20, are from Chhattisgarh but based in Dubai, where they have been under detention by UAE (United Arab Emirates) authorities since December 2023, amid attempts by various diplomatic channels for their extradition to India.

“Even as extradition proceedings are going on in the UAE, we are going to initiate FEO proceedings against the Mahadev app promoters. We will move court soon in this regard,” an ED official said, seeking anonymity.

Once declared as FEO, Chandrakar and Uppal will join the list of such fugitives after Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya, Iqbal Mirchi’s wife Hajra Memon and sons Junaid and Asif, Sandesara brothers Nitin and Chetan, latter’s wife Dipti and a close associate Hitesh Kumar Patel.

Brought in by the government in 2018 to deter economic offenders from evading the Indian law by remaining outside the jurisdiction of Indian courts, the Fugitive Economic Offenders Act empowers authorities for non-conviction-based attachment and confiscation of proceeds of crime and assets, if the amount involved is above 100 crore.

So far, FEO proceedings have been initiated against 19 people in various cases, of which 12 have been approved by courts. Properties worth 906 crore have been confiscated under the Act.

The ED, which began probing the case pertaining to the Mahadev Online Book app under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in July 2022, alleged the promoters of the app – Chandrakar and Uppal – remotely ran illegal betting operations. The projected proceeds of the crime are about 6,000 crore.

The federal agency also alleged that the funds generated by the app were used to pay bribes to politicians and bureaucrats in Chhattisgarh, where the case had become a major political issue ahead of the assembly elections in November. So far, the agency has arrested 10 people and seized or frozen movable properties worth 1,764.5 crore under PMLA.

The financial crimes probe agency has so far filed two charge sheets in the case.

The ED alleged that Mahadev Online Book “provides illegal betting facilities in different live games like poker, card games, chance games, betting on cricket, badminton, tennis, football, etc, and also provides facility for playing a number of card games like Teen Patti, Poker, Dragon Tiger, Virtual Cricket games using cards, etc., to even apps allowing placing bets on different elections in India.”

The ED said the app began its operations in 2019-20 but its reach among users saw a huge increase during Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and continued to grow since then.

“ED investigation has established that Ravi Uppal and Sourabh Chandrakar and their associates are remotely running this online betting syndicate without the necessity of remaining in India. They have successfully outsourced their entire dirty work of arranging benami shell bank accounts, hiring offices to run panels, advertising, hawala, laundering etc to willing ‘panel’ partners by promising them a share of profit and blinding with vulgar display of their wealth,” the charge sheet said.

The ED alleged that in February 2023, 200 crore cash was spent on Chandrakar’s lavish wedding in Dubai. A red corner notice was also issued against the two accused by Interpol at the behest of the federal agency.

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