ED serves notices on casino agents in Hyderabad, money laundering under lens

Published on:

Transactions in crores and lakhs of rupees, as payments to Tollywood and Bollywood actors for endorsing casino events organised by one Hyderabad based Chikoti Praveen Kumar in Goa and neighbouring Nepal, are under the enforcement directorate’s (ED) lens, reported Deccan Chronicle. The organiser has been called for questioning over suspected illegal monetary transactions.

According to information received by the ED, Kumar paid Rs 1 crore to Mallika Sherawat, Rs 40 lakh to Eesha Rebba, Rs 20 lakh to Ganesh Acharya and Rs 15 lakh to Mumaith Khan for appearing in promotional videos. These payments are also being probed.

The ED is investigating the possibility of Kumar using the actors’ presence to mask hawala transactions during the casino events.

After searching the residences of Praveen and Reddy in Saidabad and Bowenpally, the ED officials served notices to Kumar, asking him to appear on coming Monday for questioning.

ED officials seized mobile phones, laptops and other electronic gadgets from Kumar in its probe, under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

Deccan Chronicle report said that Kumar is alleged to be an agent for a Chennai-based jewellery merchant for transporting unaccounted cash. Kumar is also alleged to have links with more than 16 MLAs in Indian states.

For the event in Nepal, Bollywood actor Amisha Patel did a promotional video that went viral on social media. In the video, she said she would be appearing at the event and asked the guests to have fun. Other actors who have done promotional events for Kumar’s casino events include Meghana Naidu, Wilson and Govinda.

Responding to the ED’s notices, Kumar said that he would appear before the ED on Monday. “The ED officials have doubts and I will clarify it by attending the questioning. Casinos are legal in Nepal and Goa, in India,” Kumar said.

As many as 10 actors attended a casino event organised by Kumar and one Madhav Reddy in Hotel Mechi Crown, in Jhapa of Nepal, bordering West Bengal’s Siliguri district, from June 10 to 13, following which the ED initiated a probe earlier this month.

The ED officials suspect that the accused transported money, received from hawala transactions, to India.