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Bollywood stars including Vishal Dadlani, Tiger Shroff, and Sunny Leone performed at scam-tainted Mahadev App owner’s wedding in UAE

Promoters of the Mahadev app went to great lengths, spending approximately Rs 200 crore in cash to fund Chandrakar's wedding.

On Friday, 15th September 2023, Enforcement Directorate (ED) sources revealed that several Bollywood celebrities, including singers, dancers, and actors attended the wedding ceremony of the scam-accused owner of Mahadev Betting App Saurabh Chandrakar. The wedding took place in UAE in February 2023.

This information was uncovered during ED’s probe in the scam worth hundreds of crores in which Saurabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal are key accused. These two accused are the owners of the Mahadev Online Book Betting application which is an umbrella syndicate arranging online platforms for allegedly enabling illegal betting websites.

The celebrities attending the wedding of the scam-accused Saurabh Chandrakarincluded Atif Aslam, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Ali Asgar, Vishal Dadlani, Tiger Shroff, Elli AvrRam, Bharti Singh, Sunny Leone, Bhagyashree, Kriti Kharbanda, Neha Kakkar, Nushrratt Bharuccha and Krushna Abhishek. They were performing at the accused money launderer’s wedding. ED is also likely to summon them and inquire about the payments received for the performance.

The Mahadev Book app, an online betting platform of Saurabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal, is currently under investigation by both the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and multiple state police departments. According to ED sources, the app had engaged actors and singers, compensating them through a Mumbai-based event company.

Based on digital evidence gathered by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), it has come to light that a substantial sum of Rs 112 crore was transferred via hawala channels to an event management company known as M/s R-1 Events Pvt. Ltd., which is owned by Yogesh Popat. Additionally, hotel bookings worth Rs 42 crore were settled in cash using United Arab Emirates dirhams. As a result of these findings, the ED conducted searches at the residences of Yogesh Popat, an individual named Mithilesh, and other affiliated organisers. During these operations, unaccounted cash totalling Rs 2.37 crore was seized.

Further investigation revealed a concerning pattern where numerous celebrities endorsed various betting entities and performed at their events in exchange for substantial fees. These payments often went through convoluted transactions but ultimately originated from the earnings generated by online betting. It is alleged that the event management company, M/s R-1 Events Pvt. Ltd., received payments through hawala channels to facilitate the participation and performances of these celebrities at the wedding event.

Additionally, these sources revealed that the promoters of the Mahadev app went to great lengths, spending approximately Rs 200 crore in cash to fund Chandrakar’s wedding. This even involved the hiring of private jets to transport family members and others attending the wedding from Nagpur to the UAE.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) also conducted searches at M/s Rapid Travels in Bhopal, which is owned by Dheeraj Ahuja and Vishal Ahuja. This company was responsible for handling all ticketing operations related to the Mahadev app promoters, their families, business associates, and celebrities associated with betting websites. The Ahuja brothers allegedly funnelled the illicit cash earnings from the betting panels into the primary ticket providers, utilizing the wallet balance to book both domestic and international tickets.

M/s Rapid Travels played a pivotal role in orchestrating travel arrangements for numerous events hosted by the Mahadev group, including the high-profile annual gatherings held in the UAE in September 2022, which featured a constellation of celebrities.

Who else is accused of the money laundering

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has made significant progress in identifying key figures involved in the money laundering operations of the Mahadev Online Book App. It has been determined that Vikash Chhaparia, based in Kolkata, was overseeing all hawala-related activities for the Mahadev app. The ED conducted searches at the known residences of both Vikash Chhaparia and his associate, Govind Kedia.

During these investigations, it was uncovered that Vikas Chhaparia, with the assistance of Govind Kedia, utilised his entities, namely M/s Perfect Plan Investments LLP, M/s Exim General Trading FZCO, and M/s Techpro IT Solutions LLC, to make substantial investments in the Indian stock market through the Foreign Portfolio Investment (FPI) route. Consequently, cash derivatives and other securities valued at Rs 236.3 crore, held under the names of entities that Vikas Chhaparia had a beneficial interest in, have been frozen by the ED under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) of 2002.

Additionally, assets totalling Rs 160 crore in the demat holdings linked to Govind Kumar Kedia have been frozen by the ED under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) of 2002. The searches conducted at the properties of Govind Kumar Kedia also resulted in the confiscation of Indian currency amounting to Rs 18 lakhs, as well as gold and jewellery valued at Rs 13 crore.

Assets worth Rs 417 crore have been seized by the ED so far

As of today, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has carried out search operations at 39 different locations spanning Raipur, Bhopal, Mumbai, and Kolkata. During these operations, illicit assets with a total value of Rs 417 crore have been seized. Furthermore, the ED has commenced investigations on an international scale, and the PMLA Special Court in Raipur has issued Non-Bailable Warrants (NBWs) against individuals who are currently evading authorities.

Saurabh Chandrakar, Ravi Uppal, and the Mahadev Betting App

Saurabh Chandrakar and his associate, Ravi Uppal, are among the wanted suspects in India. Allegedly, they have been operating their Mahadev online book platform from Dubai. Both of them are originally from Bhilai in Chhattisgarh.

The two, before working as local bookies, ran small juice stalls and tire stores. Now, they have purportedly accumulated a wealth exceeding Rs 6,000 crore through the Mahadev Book app. The ED probe reveals Mahadev Online Book App operates from a UAE central office. The two accused migrated to Dubai in 2018 and started this app enticing students, jobless, and farmers with quick earnings. The app bypassed Indian regulations, permitting credit cards, UPI, debit cards, and bank transfers for betting.

Saurabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal ingeniously utilised dormant or partially active accounts for a nominal fee, complicating the tracking of large transactions across numerous accounts. Over recent years, the app facilitated their expansion, leading them to dominate India’s illicit offshore gambling sector. They acquired brands like FairPlay, Reddy Anna, and Lotus365 and introduced innovative brands such as ‘Betbhai’ and ‘Ambani Book.’

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Searched termsVishal Dadlani AAP
OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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