Mahadev betting case: Authorities verifying if MOB promoter got extortion call from jailed gangster

Sep 18, 2023 12:28 AM IST

Dubai-based co-promoter of the MOB app, Sourabh Chandrakar, allegedly received an extortion call from jailed gangster Lawrence Bishnoi, according to sources. MOB, which conducts online betting, is under investigation for money laundering. The app's earnings from illegal betting activities are estimated to be worth ₹5,000 to ₹20,000 crore. There are also allegations that MOB has coordinated with a Pakistan-based associate to launch a betting app. Authorities are examining the details of the extortion call. The ED recently conducted searches against MOB's money laundering networks in various cities and froze/seized proceeds of crime worth ₹417 crore.

Mumbai: Sourabh Chandrakar, the Dubai-based co-promoter of the Mahadev Online Book (MOB) app allegedly received an extortion call from a man claiming to be jailed gangster Lawrence Bishnoi, intelligence sources have said.

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MOB, which conducts online betting, and its promoters, Chandrakar and Ravi Uppal who are Dubai-based, are under the scanner of Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money-laundering probe. Chandrakar is believed to have turned down the demand of the caller and allegedly asked the latter if he knew who he was calling, according to intelligence sources who are aware of surveillance operations focussing on unlawful elements. MOB’s earnings from its illegal online betting activities over the past few years is estimated to be worth 5,000 to 20, 000 crore and it is being verified whether Chandrakar’s affluence could have attracted the extortion demand, the sources said.

There are also allegations that the MOB has coordinated with a Pakistan-based associate to launch a betting app there as well and its connections with organised criminal elements based in that country are being examined to ascertain its wider linkages, the sources said. The authorities are examining the details related to the extortion call as Bishnoi is currently in jail, the sources said.

The multi-state criminal syndicate allegedly led by Bishnoi is accused of involvement in many serious offences including extortion from businessmen and professionals including doctors, among others. Last month, Bishnoi was sent to a four-day police custody by a magistrate’s court in Gujarat in connection with a cross-border drug smuggling case. Earlier, in November 2022, the National Investigation Agency had arrested Bishnoi in a case related to an alleged conspiracy hatched by members of the syndicate based in India and abroad, to raise funds, recruit and create terror among the public.

ED recently conducted searches against the money laundering networks linked to MOB app in cities like Kolkata, Bhopal, Mumbai, among others and retrieved documents and froze / seized proceeds of crime worth 417 crore. Around 17 celebrities, including noted Bollywood actors, singers and comedians, are under the scanner of the ED for having attended the lavish Dubai wedding of Chandrakar in Dubai in February and a few of them might be called in for their witness testimonies. The MOB promoter allegedly spent 200 crore of proceeds of crime on the wedding and the ED is trying to trace the money trail to establish the end-beneficiaries.

The agency’s scanner is also on certain celebrities who had been paid by MOB to attend a party at a seven-star luxury hotel in Dubai scheduled for September 18 this year. ED had initiated its investigation last year based on the cases registered by the Chhattisgarh police, Visakhapatnam police and in other states.

The MOB allegedly provides online modes for illegal betting in different live games, including poker, card games, chance games and betting on cricket, badminton, tennis, football, even elections, among others. MOB’s promoters, Chandrakar and Uppal, hail from Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, and run their operations from Dubai.

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