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Sunday, 12 November 2023 | Deepak Kumar Jha | New Delhi


More skeletons have emerged in the closet of the infamous Mahadev App betting scam case, with the latest revelation being the involvement of family members of the country’s top brand name, Dabur, in the `20,000 crore scandal.

The Mumbai Police have registered an FIR against the promoter of the Khiladi app, a subsidiary of the Mahadev app, which has named 31 accused, including industrialists Mohit Burman and Gaurav Burman.

According to a copy of the FIR accessed by The Pioneer, accused number 32 has named “other unknown persons”. According to a top Mumbai police official, this has expanded the “scope” of probing other prominent individuals in the country, as the betting scandal has garnered attention during the ongoing Assembly elections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attacked Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel for his alleged involvement in the Mahadev scam. Baghel, however, has denied allegations against him.

The FIR was filed on Tuesday at Matunga police station, following a directive from the Kurla magistrate court. In the FIR, social activist Prakash Bankar from Matunga, had alleged that a fraud of approximately `15,000 crore as of now had been committed through online betting apps, since 2019.

Fraudulent activities like these have gained popularity due to endorsements by multiple celebrities, including the Dabur family, bringing disrepute to the over-century-old household brand of the country.

In its probe, the Enforcement Directorate has named 14 persons in the chargesheet, including alleged app promoters Saurabh Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal, along with other accused Vikas Chhapariya, Chandrabhushan Verma, Satish Chandrakar, Anil Dammani, Sunil Dammani, Vishal Ahuja and Dheeraj Ahuja. Bollywood actors Ranbir Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor and Huma Qureshi too have been summoned for questioning.

“Whosoever, however high you may be, the law is not above you. We shall probe the involvement of family members of Dabur. The FIR has named Gaurav and Mohit Burman so even they will be interrogated as per the court directions,” said the senior police official.

The FIR allegedly established facts that there is a link between Mumbai-based accused Mohit Burman, Dinesh Khambhat, Rohit Kumar Murgai and Gaurav Burman.

They are directly involved in the cricket league and hold direct equity in the associations participating in the league. Through their collaboration, they control and operate the player booking website/portal. As participants in the league, they are implicated in the criminal acts of match-fixing in cricket matches through their participating associations, the complaint has charged.

While fifth generation scion of Dabur family, Mohit, is the chairman of Dabur India Ltd, the world’s largest Ayurvedic and natural healthcare company, Gaurav is the controlling shareholder of Dabur India Ltd. The company is currently the largest consumer-goods company, which Burman’s great-great-grandfather founded in 1884.

In the FIR, the complaint also mentioned that the accused Saurabh Chandrakar is associated with several influential personalities and senior political leaders affiliated to the Congress.

The complaint mentions that Chandrakar, actively participated in match-fixing, to earn profits through unofficial means and the role of Burmans will be investigated.

Bankar who is also an RTI activist has alleged that the results of most matches were manipulated and decided by Chandrakar and his close associates residing in London — Dinesh Khambhat and Chander Agarwal — who are known as match-fixers in India.

According to the FIR, the complainant has stated that he learned from reliable sources that a thorough investigation will reveal that another accused, Chander Agarwal, was involved in the cricket league and had played a direct and/or indirect role in both previous and ongoing match-fixing activities.

Further the complaint says, Chandrakar had 1,200 branches, earning `2.40 lakh per day from each branch. In a month, both promoters together earned `860 crore, resulting in significant profits. A substantial portion of the profit is alleged to have been sent to him by syndicate members through hawala, and a considerable amount of the earned money had been converted into cryptocurrency.

As per the FIR, Chandrakar used his Bitcoin wallet to receive and transfer money. Currently, his Bitcoin wallet holds $2,078,318.38, which is equivalent to `17.3 crore in Indian currency.

Apart from Bitcoin, Chandrakar had an Ethereum coin wallet with $26,224,576, which, in Indian rupees, is valued at `218 crore. The FIR alleges that Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal are the masterminds behind the app. Additionally, 32 syndicate operatives, based in Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chhattisgarh, are purportedly overseeing the entire betting business, match-fixing, converting earnings that run into crores, into cryptocurrency.

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