The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has uncovered several illegal hawala transactions after carrying out raids on casino dealers and agents in eight different locations in Hyderabad after alleged reports of violations of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).
According to a report published by The Times of India on May 24, 2022, local casino agents Madhav Reddy, Pravin Chikoti, and others in Hyderabad were allegedly involved in organizing high-stakes gaming events for gamblers in Nepal. The ED were proactive in reacting to the reports and conducted searches across the city, including the residence of Madhav Reddy at Bowenpally, where they found several hawala transactions during their search.
The alleged event was organized in a town located near Siliguri on the Indo-Nepal border from the 10th to the 13th of June. The organizers of the event arranged special flights from the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Shamshabad, Hyderabad to Bagdogra Airport, Siliguri for the gamblers participating in the ‘All in’ Casino Vegas by Big Daddy at Hotel Mechi Crown Jhapa.
The gamblers were offered a four-day package by the organizers which included flight charges, food, hotel stay, drinks, and entertainment priced at Rs 3 lakh. The ED also stated that the games organized at the casino included Teen Patti, Andar Bahar, Roulette, Marriage, and Baccarat. The reports also stated that dance events were organized with several Bollywood, Tollywood, and Nepali dancers. The winnings amounts were being paid to the gamblers via hawala accounts by the organizers, the ED uncovered.
During their raid, the ED discovered that the gambling rackets weren’t acting independently, instead were being operated from various locations in Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Guntur, and Nellore. Apart from Nepal, Thailand’s Phuket island is another destination for gambling activities organized by the alleged group of casino dealers.
Earlier, the casino events were organized in the neighboring country of Sri Lanka, but due to the recent crisis on the island nation, the dealers shifted their activities to Siliguri, where they stay in hotels and actively move into Nepal for the events.