The crime branch on Tuesday arrested Virendra Randhawa alias Vindoo, actor and son of Dara Singh, for his alleged link to the cricket bookies. This is for the first time in the current T20 spot fixing scandal investigation that a Bollywood celebrity has been booked.
Vindoo - who won the third season of the reality show Big Boss - was arrested with two others person on Tuesday and were produced before a magistrate's court that remanded them to police custody till May 24.
Vindoo was in touch with bookies and cricketers, and his association with the bookies and cricketers surfaced through the phone conversations he had with absconding bookies Pawan Jaipur, Sanjay Jaipur and Jupiter. Interrogation of Ramesh Vyas, a bookie arrested by the crime branch, also hinted to Vindoo's role said an officer.
"We have taped conversations between Vindoo and several bookies who are arrested or wanted by us. He has also been touch with cricketers. While we know he placed bets, we are investigating if he was acting as a conduit between the bookies and cricketers and has any role in striking deals between them," an officer said.
Apart from Vindoo, 49, police has also arrested alleged hawala agent Alpeshkumar Patel,39, an alleged hawala operator and Prem Taneja ,39, 'well known in betting circuit, which takes the total arrests in the case to nine.
The crime branch in its remand application stated that the agency has ample technical and direct evidence to prove Vindhoo was in touch of several others bookies many of whom are absconding and players of various teams.
Vindoo who was seen with Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's wife Sakshi at a stadium fuelled stories that Sakshi would be questioned. But joint commissioner of police (Crime) Himanshu Roy said, "It is too premature to comment on anything as we are still investigating Vindoo's role."
Explaining the role of Patel, a suspected hawala operator, an officer said that he was in touch with arrested bookies and they have recovered Rs 1.28 crores from his office that was used for hawala transactions. "The monetary transactions that took place between various 'parties' involved in the fixing across several countries would use Patel's hawala channel to make or receive payments," said a crime branch officer.
An officer said that Patel, who has two offices in south Mumbai, would receive 0.25 - 0.5 per cent commission of the transaction he would route to his hawala channel. The police will also be contacting the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to check on the aspect of money laundering.
Meanwhile Taneja, the ninth arrest in the case, described as a 'well known figure' in the betting circuit, was detained by the crime branch on Tuesday from the immigration at the Mumbai international airport, as Taneja was escaping to Dubai, said an officer. The police later arrested him but refused to divulge his exact role in the case apart from stating that he was linked to the bookies arrested by them. The police recovered phones, laptops and diaries from Taneja.
The advocate for the accused objected the remand application and said that the accused are arrested out of rivalry between two agencies to prove their supremacy.
The additional metropolitan magistrate M N Saleem, after hearing both the side observed, "The material showed in the remand application leads sufficient ground for the accused to be sent for custodial interrogation. The magistrate court has remanded the accused to police custody till May 24.
The crime branch has earlier arrested six bookies from Mumbai after the police raided an apartment in Kalbadevi, from where an illegal betting racket had been operating. The police claimed that arrested accused were found to be in touch with bookies in Pakistan and Dubai. The accused are booked under various sections of Indian Penal Code for forgery and cheating along with offence of betting.