ED investigates German national’s role in illegal online betting platform

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The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has initiated an investigation into the involvement of a German national in the development and programming of the technical framework of Mahadev Online Book (MOB), an illegal online betting and gaming platform. According to sources familiar with the probe, the German individual is believed to be a key person behind this operation, valued at over $1 billion, reported Hindustan Times.

It has also been revealed that this individual has been involved in organising similar online betting and gaming platforms in Mexico and various South American countries. The ED alleges that the MOB app serves as an umbrella syndicate facilitating illegal betting websites to register new users, create user IDs, and launder money through a complex network of benami bank accounts. To date, the agency has arrested 11 individuals and named 19 in two preliminary charge sheets.

The agency is also looking into the connection of the unnamed German national with the proceeds of crime generated by MOB and its 2000 franchisees. Under MOB’s franchise model, the Dubai headquarters retains 70% of the profits, while the remaining 30% goes to the franchise holders. Sources close to the investigation reveal that MOB branches were allegedly making monthly profits of Rs.30-40 lakh each until the recent crackdown by the ED and police across three Indian states.

ED’s recent investigations have also uncovered alleged hawala transactions involving a Dubai based promoter of Mahadev Betting App. Searches conducted across 17 locations in India, including Kolkata and Pune, allegedly belonging to this individual, led to frozen security holdings worth Rs.580.7 crore. This individual is also accused of owning and operating the illegal betting website Skyexchange and laundering proceeds of crime through multiple companies operating in India and abroad.

According to ED sources, another individual recently arrested in the probe allegedly ran firms used to launder proceeds of crime under the guise of share investments. This individual’s alleged stake in a Bangladeshi gaming site and a Kathmandu casino is under ED’s scrutiny. Another accused allegedly had a stake in a MOB subsidiary along with others. This individual was also allegedly part of the “cash handling WhatsApp Group” of MOB’s Pune franchise, from where cash worth Rs.1 crore was seized in a recent search. The Pune branch allegedly handled betting cash of Rs.50 crore a month.

As part of its inter-state investigation, the ED has seized/frozen movable assets worth Rs.1,764.5 crore under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.