Mahadev app owner Ravi Uppal detained in Dubai; ED seeks deportation

The businessman is being probed by the ED in a money laundering case.

Mahadev app owner Ravi Uppal detained in Dubai; ED seeks deportation

Wednesday December 13, 2023,

3 min Read

Ravi Uppal, one of the two main owners of the Mahadev online betting app, has been detained in Dubai by the local police on the basis of a red notice issued by Interpol at the behest of the ED, official sources said Wednesday.

Uppal, 43, was detained last week in the country and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) authorities are in touch with the Dubai authorities to get him deported to India, they said.

The businessman is being probed by the ED in a money laundering case linked to alleged illegal betting through online apps, apart from the Chhattisgarh and Mumbai Police crime branches.

The federal probe agency had filed a money laundering charge sheet against Uppal and another promoter of the internet-based platform, Sourabh Chandrakar, before a special Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) court in Chhattisgarh's Raipur in October.

A red notice was subsequently issued against the two by Interpol on the basis of the ED's request based on a court-issued non-bailable warrant.

The process is on to find Chandrakant, 28, too, the sources said.

The agency had informed the court in the chargesheet that Uppal has taken a passport of Vanuatu, an island country in the Pacific Ocean, even though he has not renounced Indian citizenship.

Uppal, the ED said in the prosecution complaint, "generated and enjoyed proceeds of crime and is involved in their concealment and layering." It had alleged Uppal was "looking after the delivery of the liasioning money to the bureaucrats and politicians of Chhattisgarh through Chandrabhushan Verma", an assistant sub-inspector of police, and some others.

The projected proceeds of crime in this case are about Rs 6,000 crore, according to the ED.

The agency had claimed in November, just before the first phase of Chhattisgarh assembly polls, that forensic analysis and statement made by a 'cash courier' named Asim Das have led to "startling allegations" that Mahadev betting app promoters have paid about Rs 508 crore to former Chhattisgarh chief minister and senior Congress leader Bhupesh Baghel so far, adding these allegations were "subject matter of investigation".

Das had later submitted before the special court in Raipur that he had been framed as part of a conspiracy and he had never delivered cash to politicians.

The ED investigation has shown that Mahadev Online Book App is run from a central head office in the UAE, officials said. It operates by franchising "Panel/Branches" to their known associates on 70-30% profit ratio, it had said.

Large-scale hawala operations are done to siphon off the proceeds of betting to off-shore accounts, it had said.

Large expenditure in cash is also being done in India for advertising betting websites to attract new users and franchise (panel) seekers, the ED had said.

The company promoters hail from Bhilai in Chhattisgarh and the Mahadev online book betting application is an umbrella syndicate arranging online platforms for enabling illegal betting websites.

Edited by Megha Reddy