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ED Held Cash Courier Over Mahadev Betting App Case Files Chargesheet

Jan 5, Raipur/New Delhi. The ED told a court that an alleged courier who was detained in connection with the Mahadev betting app case and who claimed to have been ordered to “deliver” money to former Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel has withdrawn his denial of making the accusations and that he still stands by his allegation.

Just prior to the first round of the Chhattisgarh assembly elections, in November, courier Asim Das was taken into custody by a federal agency from a hotel in Raipur. It stated that Das “admitted that the seized funds (Rs 5.39 crore cash) were arranged by the Mahadev app promoters to be delivered to one politician ‘Baghel’ for upcoming election expenses in Chhattisgarh” .

In his appearance before the court later in the year, Das said he had never delivered money to anyone and had been set up as a conspirator.

The Enforcement Directorate now states that Das recorded a new statement on December 12 of last year in which he “retracted from his November 3 statement (made) under the influence of someone who arrived with his (Das’s) advocate” in its second prosecution complaint (charge sheet), which was filed before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Raipur on January 1.

“This person gave him a pre-typed document and asked him to reproduce it in his handwriting,” Das has now informed the ED.

Additionally, the guy informed the agency that he “signed the retraction, thinking it would help his case, and did not know to whom the retraction was forwarded.”

According to the ED, Das claimed that his initial statement, which he sent to the agency on November 3 of last year and included Baghel’s name, was “true and correct”.

The courier reported to the ED in November that he had received a call in October 2023 from Subham Soni, the promoter of the Mahadev app, informing him that he would be “provided cash which was to be delivered to Mr Bhupesh Baghel…”

Interestingly, on December 6 in the Durg district of Chhattisgarh, Das’s father, Sushil Das, 62, was discovered dead in a well under dubious circumstances.

While the Congress referred to these accusations as “vendetta politics” by the Center, Baghel called them an attempt to “malign” his reputation.

Five people are listed in the ED charge sheet: Anil Kumar Agrawal, also known as Atul Agrawal, Asim Das, police policeman Bhim Singh Yadav, Mahadev app operators Subham Soni, and Rohit Gulati, an employee of the accounting department.

On January 10, the Raipur court is anticipated to take cognizance of this further charge sheet.

The agency also stated in its most recent charge sheet that, in order to obtain the court’s approval to seize them, it has attached an apartment and a plot in Dubai that are valued at Rs 99.46 crore and are subject to the PMLA.

These assets are owned by Agrawal and Vikash Chhapparia, who is one of the accused in this case.

The two primary promoters of the suspected unlawful betting and gambling app, Sourabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal, were listed among others in the first charge sheet that the ED submitted last year. The ED is attempting to deport or extradite the two from the United Arab Emirates to India, and they were recently placed under arrest in Dubai based on an Interpol red alert that was issued at their request.

In an email sent on November 2 of last year, Soni—a “prominent member in the financial operations” of the Mahadev app—said to the ED that “regular bribe payments have been made in the past and so far around Rs 508 crore have been paid by Mahadev app promoters to Mr. Bhupesh Baghel, chief minister of Chhattisgarh.” Soni did not appear before the ED.

Soni listed “Verma Ji” as one of the conduits for bribe/profit share payments in his email, which the agency claims further evidences that kickbacks were “in fact being paid on behalf of Mahadev Book to the political executives for ensuring smooth operation of betting operations in Chhattisgarh.”

The Mahadev app executive Nitish Diwan told the agency that the app and its subsidiary ‘Reddy Anna Book’ operated up to 3,200 panels that generated Rs 40 crore per day. The promoters had rented 20 villas in Dubai to house their staff of approximately 3,500 people. This statement was included in the latest charge sheet filed by the ED.

“The expenses incurred on food, lodging, medicine, travel and visa were borne by the promoters,” Diwan stated to the ED.

Additionally, he informed the agency that on September 18, 2022, a success party was thrown in Dubai by the promoters, to which a large number of “Bollywood stars” attended.

The ED has called comedian Kapil Sharma, actors Ranbir Kapoor and Huma Qureshi, and others to record statements in this case.

The agency also taped an event planner named Yogesh Popat’s statement to the ED, in which he claimed to have “organised” accused Chandrakar associate Anil Agrawal’s birthday party at a Dubai hotel in exchange for a payment of roughly Rs 4-4.5 crore.

According to him, the party’s vendors were employed locally in Dubai, and performers included comedian and actor Ali Asgar as well as singer Sachin-Jigar.



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